The Dominican Republic’s tourism minister said Wednesday the country is “working closely with the appropriate authorities to solve these cases as quickly as possible,” following the recent deaths of U.S. tourists at the Bahia Principe resort in La Romana.
In a statement, Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia offered “its sincerest condolences to the families and friends of those affected in the tragic events that have been reported over the last few weeks in the country.”
Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, became ill and died a short time after consuming a mini-bar drink at in her room at the resort. American travelers Nathaniel Edward Holmes and Cynthia Ann Day were discovered dead in their hotel room at the same property on the day they were due to check out.
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The events have prompted other travelers to come forward with stories of becoming ill at Dominican Republic resorts. Travel agents reached by TravelPulse say increasing numbers of clients are opting to cancel their Dominican Republic travel.
“A client who does annual ‘sun and fun’ incentive trips for a small sales group asked that I not include this destination in my proposal for 2020 and possibly even 2021 out of concern about the claims of “minibar drinks,” said Monique Lane, a New Jersey-based agent.
“I have a group of 10 going in November and they just requested to change their destination,” said Georgia-based agent Edkesha Anderson. “Nothing I’ve told has made them feel comfortable about continuing their trip even though their resort has no connection to any of the events,” she said.
“All visitors are very important to us,” said Javier Garcia. “The Ministry’s most important responsibilities are to ensure that the highest industry standards are met so that all tourists are safe when visiting. At the same time, it must also work to provide a definitive answer to the afflicted families.”
The statement says “the US Embassy in Santo Domingo highlighted today that they are ‘actively working in collaboration with Dominican authorities and the private sector to ensure that all US citizens are and feel safe while in the country.’”
Dominican authorities have asked Embassy officials “for FBI assistance for further toxicology analysis on the recent Bahia Principe, La Romana cases,” according to the Embassy’s website. “Our FBI colleagues tell us that those results may take up to 30 days. We ask everyone to be patient while these investigations run their course.”
The National Police Department, in collaboration with the Ministry, National Hotel Association (ASONAHORES), the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), is following the due process and working diligently to complete the investigations and to keep the public informed as new findings arise.
The Ministry added it is working with ASONAHORES, the country’s hotel association, to “reinforce safety conditions and quality control in food, beverages and any other element that has a positive impact on the satisfaction of those who visit our county as tourists.”
“While what happened is tragic and regrettable, it is important for everyone who wishes to disseminate information about the situation to do it in context and with perspective,” said Javier Garcia. “It is advisable to wait for the official reports before speculating on the causes of death.
“We are confident that we can provide a definitive answer as soon as possible,” he added. “You can also be sure that the necessary measures will be taken to make the country even safer for all visitors.”
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Expedia Group Lends a Hand With $275 Million Program
Expedia Group has announced its commitment of $275 million USD to help partners rebound from the impact of COVID-19 and fuel industry-wide recovery efforts.
Expedia Group’s recovery program is comprised of global initiatives to support industry recovery and property-level relief designed to help independent partners and small chains rebuild their business, attract high-value guests, and optimize cash flow.
Below are some of the program highlights.
To Restore Partners:
– Expedia Group is committing $250 million in marketing credits and financial relief. For each property that participates in the program, the company will reinvest 25% of the compensation earned in 2019 from the property into marketing credits for use with Expedia Group.
– To better understand when demand will return to a market, Expedia Group is providing proprietary data to track trends through a new analytics tool called Market Insights. The dynamic dashboard provides trends on website traffic, stay dates, and demand source markets.
– To support chains and owner groups, Expedia Group released a streamlined version of its optimized distribution solution that allows lodging suppliers to more effectively manage the distribution of wholesale rates among third party travel providers.
To Restore Destinations:
– To re-ignite demand through market awareness, Expedia Group Media Solutions is opening a $25 million fund for destinations. This recovery plan focuses on destination-led and co-op campaigns, which bring together destination and supply partners with similar audiences to manage their advertising spend while maximizing their conversions.
– To keep travel top of mind, Expedia Group is rolling out a series of global brand campaigns. For example, an online campaign from Media Solutions called Where Next? helps customers discover new destinations.
To Restore the Industry:
– To help furloughed and displaced workers advance during this time, Expedia Group has created a complimentary training and education program called Expedia Group Academy. The program offers skill development through online learning modules and live content led by Expedia Group subject matter experts and travel industry leaders.
– To ensure customers can book with confidence, Expedia Group created a new feature for lodging partners to highlight the health and hygiene measures at their properties.
– To meet the needs of cautious customers and ensure booking flexibility, nearly 70% of lodging rate plans on Expedia Group sites are now refundable.
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