If you were to ask me for a trip that is packed with big value, the Dominican Republic will be top of my list. The destination offers big bang for the buck. This is largely why the island has seen a steadily increase in travelers and tourists each year. Known for its sandy beaches, clear blue ocean and the luxury of an all-inclusive hotel option, it can be a vacationer’s paradise. But, is it safe? This seems to be a hot topic lately.
While it was an exciting week with The New York Post, ABC News, NY Daily News and CBS News all reaching out to me for an expert’s opinion on the recent developments in the Dominican Republic, it was for unfortunate events and not an easy topic to discuss.
More than 6 million tourists were welcomed to the Dominican Republic last year,
and the number is still climbing. That is a lot of travelers, like a lot a lot, and the growing majority returned home safely and with fond memories. Unfortunately, we were reminded more recently that this is not always the case. Just because the Dominican Republic is one of the most dreamiest vacation spots, doesn’t mean it’s also one of the safest. Like anywhere, natural disasters, crime and violence could be an issue even in the very magical spots we dream of.
The recent publicity of the island is not indicative of the country falling to ruins. It also should not take away from the successful resorts, the Dominican people and the businesses that are doing an incredible job to keep their guests safe. As a matter of fact, the crime rate in the Dominican Republic in the last several years has decreased. Also worth noting, the State Department has not published any new travel advisories and only has the country at a level 2. FYI: level 2 is low! This is the same level as many other islands and European cities. And to be fair, you can get robbed, harassed, and assaulted pretty much anywhere. Numbers aren’t always a decent indication.
The news and social media tend to highlight negative press. Because let’s face it,
negative news is almost always more worthy to cover because it attracts more
interest. However, I get it, in this situation especially! It is a bit overwhelming and alarming, so making sure my clients are comfortable in their choice of hotel and destination is a top priority. I have had a number of clients concerned
about their future trips to the Dominican Republic. From small families to large
groups and even a couple of destination weddings, many are reaching out for advice.
While some chose to move hotels, others moved to a completely different island. The whole point of going on vacation is to relax, be stress-free and worry-free, and that’s
the type of experience I pride G World Travel on offering. If clients are expressing
concerns, it defeats the purpose of travel. I got your back (almost literally), so if you need extra information or want to re-evaluate your vacation choices, then let’s do it!
The recent news has shed some light on the situation and eventually even made me
aware that not all travel agencies and online booking engines will help. Is it surprising? Not really, money is still money to some, bad news or no news. I received countless calls and emails from travelers that were not given the support or the opportunity to move or change their plans to suit their needs best. Ridiculous, outrageous even! This brings me to “smart travel”. What would your mother tell you to do? Here are a number of things I could agree with her on: Don’t leave the hotel grounds especially at night. Don’t go off anywhere alone. Book your trip through someone who isn’t afraid to go up to bat for you. Stay hydrated and take care of your body. Remember, you’re more likely eating new foods, consuming more liquor and sugary beverages than you would in your normal day to day, being more or less active than usual and getting a lot of sun. In a destination like D.R., don’t rent a car and go on an adventure. There are reputable companies set up to help from the airport, right into a marked car and directly to your hotel. Hotels too will offer a transfer company. Book travel insurance and consider the cancel-for-any-reason option. Yes, it is more expensive but it gives you more coverage. Avoid the urban cities like Santo Domingo. Check out the State Department’s website and the news. You’ll be able to review which places and hotels to avoid.
I am very saddened by the series of events and my heart breaks for the families that
were greatly affected. It is tragic. There is no getting around it. While I am happy to
reroute my clients that don’t want to travel to the destination, I am also happy to point others in the right direction when planning their trip to D.R. I once heard, “Accidents hide in a little corner”, and they do. A tragedy can hit us at anytime, anywhere. Taking the right travel precautions, educating yourself on your destination (beyond your interest in searching for the best steakhouse, or if the hotel offers free WiFi) is you doing your part. This will get you far, hopefully far enough like the Dominican Republic.