Canada has issued a new travel warning for citizens headed to the Dominican Republic over rising crime rates and an escalating humanitarian crisis with its bordering nation of Haiti.
Despite being one of the safest Caribbean destinations, the Dominican Republic has seen an uptick in violent crimes lately, with a 9-year-old boy being shot fatally last week while on vacation in Cibao.
Here’s the latest on traveler safety in the Dominican Republic:
Canada Issues Fresh Travel Advisory Amid Growing Safety Concern
The Canadian government has just published a new safety notice for travelers visiting the Dominican Republic in the coming months.
According to the warning, Canadian visitors are asked to exercise a “high level of precaution” while vacationing in the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic is currently under a yellow travel warning as per the latest update issued by Canada’s foreign ministry. The warning means that while generally safe, visitors need to exercise a higher level of situational awareness and take additional safety measures.
According to government sources, officials decided to increase the country’s travel warning level due to growing rates of violent crime as well as the deteriorating situation along the border with Haiti.
With regard to violent crime, Canadian officials say that reports of violent crimes are on the rise, especially in larger cities. Meanwhile, petty crime, including pickpocketing and theft, remains a major concern in beaches, airports, and public transportation.
The travel warning urges Canadian citizens to be especially cautious when using rental vehicles, as they are often the target of armed robberies, especially while stopped at red lights.
Canada’s latest warning may be linked to a shocking murder that occurred last week when a U.S. traveler was killed shortly after arriving in the Dominican Republic with his father.
The victims were targeted by an armed gang, who shot the travelers after departing Cibao International Airport in a rental vehicle.
Canadian travelers are urged to follow basic safety precautions, such as avoiding carrying valuables visibility when spending time outside.
Moreover, visitors are being asked to stay close to popular resort areas such as Punta Cana, where police and law enforcement agents are stationed.
Fortunately, violent crime rarely affects visitors, and the Dominican Republic government maintains a sizable contingent of law enforcement in popular resort locations.
Despite the new safety alert, a record number of Canadian travelers are expected to flock to the Dominican Republic this year on the back of the recently signed Open Skies Treaty.
The new framework is projected to bring down airfare and increase the availability of new flights to destinations like Puerto Plata, Samaná, and Punta Cana.
Most Canadian airlines, including low-cost Air Transat and Sunwings, operate an extensive network of flights to the sun-soaked island.
Worsening Situation In Neighboring Haiti Causing Alarm
The other major concern brought to light by the recent travel warning concerns the situation in Haiti, a country with which the Dominican Republic shares a 224-mile-kong border.
There has been growing international concern about spiraling violence in Haiti, which is facing a dire humanitarian situation as criminal gangs and widespread corruption undermine the foundations of stability.
According to U.N. General Secretary Antonio Guterres, the international community must seriously consider deploying an armed peacekeeping force to prevent the situation from escalating further.
While the Dominican Republic is not directly affected by the situation, armed gangs have been known to target Dominican citizens and travelers along the border between the two nations.
Travelers are being asked to avoid border communities, which lack access to emergency services and are affected by higher crime rates.
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