RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Two new American deaths are raising concerns over travel to the Dominican Republic.
The United States Department of State has increased their travel advisory for those heading to the country.
In April, US Officials increased the travel advisory to the Dominican Republic to a level 2 which means for tourist to exercise increased caution. The cause they say is due to crime.
“You always want to be aware of your surroundings no matter where you are traveling,” AAA ppokesperson Tammy Arnette said.
Since last year, six Americans have died at four hotels across the Dominican Republic and three happened within the last month alone.
“When you vacation as a family, you want to come home as a family.” Dawn McCoy said.
Dawn McCoy’s husband, David Harrison, got sick last July in Punta Cana and died.
“Something isn’t right in the Dominican for all these people to be dying.” McCoy said.
“Don’t just pack a bag to have a good time but make sure you’re packing as much the travel advice as possible,” Arnette said.
Arnette says the number one goal is to stay safe.
“You definitely need to make sure you are aware of your surroundings. If you are traveling with others, it’s always best to travel together,” Arnette said.
Arnette also warns to never be flashy.
“You don’t want to flash and signs of wealth. You don’t want to have any expensive jewelry or expensive watches or flash money,” Arnette said.
According to reports, flight searches to the Dominican Republic dropped by more than 12 percent on Kayak in just the last week. Tourism on the island is taking a hit.
Federal law enforcement is helping out Dominican authorities with toxicology exams for the American victims. The deaths have not been connected.
As the mystery surrounding the recent deaths continue, Arnete says there’s a program to help travelers stay connected.
“Something we recommend is to sign up for the STEP program which is the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. That program makes it easier to contact US citizens in case of an emergency,” Arnette said.
The STEP program program will connect you to the nearest US embassy or consulate.
Click here to learn more about the STEP program.
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