- André Van Der Horst, the tourism adviser to the Dominican Republic government, told the Washington Post that the country has hired “crisis management” specialists amid news of recent tourist deaths.
- He said the incidents are unrelated but “coincided in timing,” and the Dominican Republic is trying to “establish reaction protocols.”
- The tourist hotspot has faced scrutiny in recent weeks over seven tourist deaths at all-inclusive resorts, a fatal car crash, claims of an assault on a US tourist, and a shooting that injured former MLB star David Ortiz.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
The government of the Dominican Republic has hired “crisis management” specialists after a series of devastating incidents on the island. In the past several months, seven tourist deaths at all-inclusive resorts have come to light; two Americans died in a fatal car crash; there have been claims of an assault on a US tourist on resort grounds; and just this week, former MLB star David Ortiz was injured in a nightclub shooting.
André Van Der Horst, the tourism adviser to the Dominican Republic, told the Washington Post that all of the incidents are unrelated but “coincided in timing,” and that the country is working with crisis management to decide how to move forward.
“With social media today, we are exposed and require an immediate response to the current public relations dynamic, a new reality worldwide,” he said. “We are not used to this type of viral communicational outburst and are working with crisis management specialists to establish reaction protocols.”
The island, which is a major tourist hotspot, has faced scrutiny over the deaths of seven US tourists who died while staying at all-inclusive resorts within the last year.
Edward Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Day, of Maryland, and Miranda Schaup-Werner, of Pennsylvania, all died while staying at the Bahia Principe hotel at the Playa Nueva Romana resort in La Romana, about 50 miles west of Punta Cana, in May.
Yvette Monique Sport, of Pennsylvania, died at a hotel in the same resort chain last June, her family told NBC10.
David Harrison, of Maryland, died while staying at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in the beach town of Punta Cana last July.
And Robert Bell Wallace, of California, died at the same hotel as Harrison in April. He had fallen ill after having a drink from his hotel room minibar, but his official cause of death has yet to be determined.
On Wednesday, “Shark Tank” judge and real estate investor Barbara Corcoran revealed that her brother John was found dead of an apparent heart attack in a Dominican Republic hotel room in April.
The FBI is helping local authorities to investigate the deaths of Schaup-Werner, Holmes, and Day, NPR reported.
Along with the deaths at all-inclusive resorts, two tourists died in a fatal car accident in March, and a woman came forward last month claiming she was brutally assaulted at a resort in January. Police are investigating her claims.
On Sunday, former Red Sox star David Ortiz was shot in the back at a bar in Santo Domingo. Ortiz is currently recovering in Boston.
The Dominican Republic’s tourism minister, Francisco Javier Garcia, told CNN that the country is a safe destination.
“These cases are very regrettable, but isolated,” he said in a statement to the network. “Investigation into them is a top priority for us and for the National Police. We are asking them to deploy all resources to help provide answers as quickly as possible.”
Dominican government spokesman Roberto Rodriguez Marchena recently started using the hashtag #BeFairWithDR to counter negative publicity surrounding the country.
“Cheerful, welcoming and hospitable, our Dominican Republic, the economy that grows the most in America, with its beautiful beaches and mountains, its tasty gastronomy and hardworking people invites you to know and love it,” he said, according to CNN.
The tourism industry accounted for more than 17% of the Dominican Republic’s economy in 2017, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
- Read more:
- Alleged coordinator of David Ortiz shooting reportedly paid $US7,800 to carry out attack, police say
- Nearly a year after the mysterious death of her husband in the Dominican Republic, David Harrison’s wife still doesn’t have answers
- Here’s what travellers can do to stay safe in the Dominican Republic
- An Instagram influencer says she regrets not being fully honest about her Dominican Republic travels as the country faces scrutiny over recent tourist deaths
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.