While D.R. bookings plummet, other Caribbean islands capitalize

Flight bookings to the Dominican Republic have plunged in
the wake of the deaths
of Americans staying at resorts, according to ForwardKeys, and other Caribbean destinations are benefiting.

From June 1 to 19, bookings for July and August flights from
the U.S. to the Dominican Republic fell 74.3% year over year, ForwardKeys said.
In April and May of this year, bookings to the Dominican Republic had been up
2.8%.

Also from June 1 to 19, Dominican Republic cancellations jumped 51.2% on
bookings for future travel dates. Cancellations jumped 70% the day after a June
11 death was reported.

Meanwhile, bookings to other Caribbean destinations are
spiking. Jamaica, which was down 8.4% in April and May, was up 26% from June 1
to 19. The Bahamas, up 7% in April and May, was up 44.5% from June 1 to 19.
Aruba, down 3.5% in April and May, was up 31.3% from June 1 to 19.

Another tourist death in the Dominican Republic was reported this week, bringing the
total to at least eight this year. Coverage has proliferated in the consumer
media. While heart issues have been ruled the official cause of several of the
deaths, their circumstances remain odd. In some cases, the victims reportedly
took drinks from minibars before quickly falling ill.

In a statement this week, minister of tourism Francisco
Javier maintained the country remains safe. He also said that the deaths were not
mysterious, saying, “We have unequivocally shown that there is not an
avalanche of deaths of American tourists in the country and it is not true that
there are mysterious deaths.”

Javier also said the Dominican Republic will implement an
informational campaign “to communicate the truth about the country.”
He also said safety remains a priority.

ForwardKeys found that bookings to the Dominican Republic
started to fall after three deaths that happened at the end of May. Bookings
further fell after several June deaths were reported.

“My deepest sympathies go out to the families of the
American tourists who have passed away,” ForwardKeys vice president of
insights Olivier Ponti said in a statement. “Their recent and tragic
deaths appear to have had a dramatic impact on travel to the Dominican
Republic. Our analysis of leisure travel shows a striking correlation.”

Ponti said ForwardKeys has not seen signs of Dominican
Republic bookings picking back up.

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