INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — At least six U.S. tourists have now died under mysterious circumstances in the Dominican Republic.
As news of the deaths continues to spread, some Americans, including Hoosiers, are now second guessing their vacation plans.
Agents at several central Indiana travel agencies say they’ve had clients either delay, cancel or express reservations about traveling to the Dominican. Alex Kutin, the owner of Travel Leaders Indy, says he has fielded calls of concern. However, Kutin says he assures clients that the Dominican Republic is still a safe place for them to go.
“The clients are basically saying should I go to the D.R. or not, is it safe to travel there? And our response is, yes, it is” Kutin said.
Like many travel agencies, Kutin says he looks to travel advisories issued by the State Department to help determine how safe a destination is. The Dominican Republic is currently under a level 2 advisory, which is the same as countries like Germany, Italy and France.
Still, concern over travel to the island is spreading.
“We have a local mom group, and someone was asking, and there must have been about 27 comments from people who say they wouldn’t travel there at this time,” Robin Sackstein said.
I don’t want to go there. It really does freak me out,” Lynn Nye said.
The Dominican Republic is a largely popular tourist hot spot for Americans. According to Dominican officials, around two million Americans visit the island each year.
Experts say regardless of any country you’re visiting, it’s always good to exercise caution.
“You just can’t be too safe. You’re in unfamiliar territory, you’re not as comfortable, and it puts you a little on the defensive,” said Doug Kouns, a former FBI special agent with two decades of experience.
He says when it comes to your health while traveling out of the country, it’s never a bad idea to avoid drinking anything that wasn’t sealed, and eating foods that aren’t cooked or didn’t come in a package.
“You just don’t know, so unless it’s sealed, I wouldn’t drink it,” he said.
Kouns also recommends downloading the State Department’s Smart Traveler app, which gives you detailed information about the risks in any country.