The Dominican Republic has been in the news recently and not for its pristine beaches. The recent deaths of several American citizens on the island has sparked questions about safety on the island. One of those questions is whether the island has become more dangerous for Americans than in previous years. We dug into some data from the last 10 years and the answer is no, if you're judging by the number of American deaths. And the U.S. government has similar travel warnings in place for the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean destinations.
About 2.7 million U.S. citizens visit the Dominican Republic each year, according to the U.S. State Department. "We have not seen an uptick in the number of U.S. citizen deaths reported to the department," the State Department told NBC.
Still, a number of Americans recently have died or fallen ill while visiting the island, leaving tourists searching for answers.
From 2010 through 2018, 176 U.S. citizens died in the Dominican Republic from non-natural causes. That’s a rate of 1.11 deaths per 100,000 U.S. tourists, the lowest compared to other popular tourist destinations like Mexico and Jamaica.
Santo Domingo, the capital and largest city of the island, is popular among tourists and subsequently the place where most of the U.S. citizen deaths have occurred.
As of April 15, the State Department has an "exercise increased caution" travel advisory in effect for the Dominican Republic because of crime. It's the second lowest level of four advisory categories. The department has similarly advised U.S. citizens to exercise increased precaution while traveling to other regional destinations like Jamaica and Cuba.
In the wake of recent deaths, Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., has called on the State Department to reevaluate its travel advisory.
Despite safety concerns at the moment, the Dominican Republic remains a largely popular destination for American citizens because of its proximity to mainland America and its affordability. TODAY has a round-up of safety precautions that tourists can take for a safer trip there or elsewhere.