While the Dominican Republic has gone from strength to strength in its tourism recovery post-covid, its Hispaniola neighbor Haiti has seen a much different situation develop over the last two years.
The two nations couldn’t be more different in their security situation. The Dominican Republic has blossomed into a shining beacon of democracy and stability in the Caribbean, which it is capitalizing on through heavy investment in tourism. Unfortunately, Haiti doesn’t enjoy the same prosperity, having been rocked by a serious decay in stability since the assassination of former president Jovenel Moïse in 2021.
Naturally this can be a worry for tourists. The two nations share a 240-mile border which is extremely close to many top tourist destinations in the Dominican Republic. So, the question is, should travelers be concerned?
Should Travelers Be Concerned?
It’s only natural for travelers to be concerned about visiting a nation with an unstable neighbor, especially those traveling as a family. But tourism is fast becoming the economical heartbeat of this Caribbean nation, so for those visiting the Dominican Republic, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a lot is being done to ensure there is no spillover at the border into areas important to tourism.
For travelers visiting Punta Cana, the situation in Haiti may as well be on another island. The distance between the world-famous destination and Haiti is enough alone to shield tourism. But there are popular tourist areas closer to the border, such as Cabo Rojo and the new super-destination being constructed at Pedernales, which is a border town. Even though the issues in Haiti aren’t causing affecting tourism yet, those visiting border areas should keep a close watch on the developing situation.
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What Is Happening In Haiti
While the assassination of the president is seen as a huge influence on the recent situation, the issues in Haiti have been worsening for many years. The nation has a long history of turbulence from gang crime and political instability, which was further worsened by the destructive 2010 earthquake that rocked the nation. Sadly, over 222,000 people lost their lives in that natural disaster, and the effects are still felt today.
Before the earthquake, Haiti already had high unemployment, low wages, and few economic opportunities. But with the destruction came a worsening situation in all these respects, leading to many joining gangs as a means to make ends meet.
It’s clear to see why this concerns the government in the Dominican Republic, which itself has forged a reputation as a strong functioning democracy. The worry is that these gangs may look to cross the border and take advantage of the much stronger economical position of the Dominican Republic.
What Action Is The Dominican Republic Taking?
Even before the situation deteriorated in Haiti, the Dominican Republic took border security seriously, and this has doubled down in recent years.
The military of the Dominican Republic is a modern and professional outfit, and the government has invested heavily in new aircraft and modern technologies to help them police the border areas set far from the main crossings. Their actions aren’t without criticism. Of course, the policing of borders is often a subject that splits the room, but the Dominican Republic is determined to ensure the issues in Haiti don’t become an issue for tourists or Dominicans.
Past visitors to the Dominican Republic often praise the nation for making tourists feel safe. Many areas are policed by a special department called the Politur (Tourism Police), whose job is to act as the first line of defense and service to travelers. These officers are highly regarded in the country, with all speaking a good level of English as well as being better paid and held to much higher standards than the national Police.
The feeling of safety tourists experience here can sometimes come as a shock to first-time travelers in the Dominican Republic, as it has many issues with crime internally. But like neighboring Mexico, the crime in the country is rarely focused on tourists.
Is The Situation In Haiti Improving?
Unfortunately, the situation in Haiti shows no signs of improvement. The government of the Dominican Republic has repeatedly called for international help for their island neighbor in the form of a peacekeeping force, a request that has been backed by large democracies, including Canada. But for now, there are no signs of this being enacted.
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