Open Letter

We cannot stress enough how deeply we regret the tragic situations of the last few weeks in the Dominican Republic. We are a nation of happy, humble, empathic and easy-going people with an innate sense of service, and that’s why we want to send our sincerest condolences and solidarity — not only from the Ministry of Tourism but the entire nation — to the families and friends of those affected.

Visitors who passed away are not just numbers for us. They were people who wanted to spend a great time in our country. Our commitment has been and always will be that everyone who comes to the Dominican Republic can live their dream vacation.

As the supervising entity of the tourism sector in the Dominican Republic, our most important responsibilities are to ensure that highest industry standards are met so that all tourists are safe when visiting our destinations. We must also provide a definitive answer to the afflicted families.

That answer is in process right now. The National Police is working hard to complete the investigations so they can provide the answer these families are looking for. But as a responsible and law-abiding institution, we want these investigations to follow due process and to be credible so that the families can receive the respect they deserve, especially in these hard times.

As far as we have been informed, each one of the hotels involved have fully followed through with the established protocols and processes designed to respond immediately to these kinds of cases.

The Ministry of Tourism is collaborating with the hotels, national authorities, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to accelerate the investigations and to keep the public informed as new findings arise. All these institutions have vowed to continue to work hard. We can be confident that we will provide a definitive answer as soon as possible.

At the same time, the Ministry is working together with the National Hotel Association (ASONAHORES) to reinforce safety conditions, quality control in food and beverages and any other element that has a positive impact on the satisfaction of those who visit our county as tourists.

It is important to highlight that our country has served as model for other destinations in terms of operations and industry standards. This is demonstrated in the following statistics reported by the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic:

– In 2018, 6.6 million tourists visited the Dominican Republic, of which 3.2 million came from the United States and Canada.

– Almost 30 million tourists have visited the Dominican Republic in the last five years. – According to a poll carried out in 2018 by the same institution:

– 99% of the tourists from the United States said they would return to our country on vacation, 96% of them responded that the destination had fulfilled their expectations and 94% evaluated our tourism services as excellent.

– 94% of the tourists from Canada said they would return to our country, 99% said their expectations were met entirely and 97% evaluated our tourism services as excellent.

– In 2017, the rate of crime against tourists was 1.6 per 100,000 visitors. In 2018, that rate dropped to 1.4 per 100,000 visitors.

The United States Department of State reported that 32 Americans died in 2009 due to non-natural causes in the Dominican Republic. In 2018, only 13 Americans died due to non-natural causes. In a decade, the country has cut this rate by more half.

These statistics are recognized by international tourism experts like CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg. In an interview this week on June 10th, he said that “when you look at the sheer number of people that are vacationing there and then you look at the number of incidents, the numbers are overwhelmingly in your favor, but that shouldn’t prevent you from asking some basic common-sense questions.” In other words, it is important for tourists to take precautions when they travel to any destination in the world.

Along the same lines, Mark Murphy, CEO of travAlliancemedia, explained in a recent interview that “the FBI and CDC are on the ground. That’s the way that this is going to get resolved for Americans who have doubts. This is a destination that has welcomed eight million Americans over the last four years. How many times have we heard about problems?”

Robin Bernstein, the United States Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, when asked about the case of Tammy Lawrence said, “Statistics show that this is a unique and particular case. Tourists come to visit the beautiful beaches and to enjoy the great culture. Unfortunately, bad things happen sometimes.”

While we understand that these situations are tragic and regrettable, it is important for everyone who wishes to disseminate information about the situation in the Dominican Republic to do it in context and with perspective. It is advisable to wait for the official reports before speculating on the causes of death.

Speculating only directly affects hundreds of thousands of workers and families in the Dominican Republic and the income of millions of Dominicans who indirectly depend on tourism.

You can be assured that the Ministry of Tourism and other corresponding authorities will provide more information about these cases as soon as it becomes available. And you can also be certain that we will make the necessary policy decisions to make our country even safer for all visitors.


Francisco Javier Garcia Minister of Tourism

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