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U.S. Issues New Update To Travel Advisory For The Dominican Republic

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The U.S. Department of State has issued an update concerning its travel advisory for the Dominican Republic, urging travelers to exercise a higher degree of caution amid rising rates of violent crime.

A white sand beach with travelers in Punta Cana

While generally one of the safest countries in the Caribbean for travel, several shocking incidents involving tourists have prompted both the U.S. and Canada to issue new travel notices. 

Here’s the latest on the security situation in the Dominican Republic and what the U.S. travel warning means in practice.

Dominican Republic Policeman maintaining the traffic order at a special occasion.

Dominican Republic Remains Under Level 2 Travel Advisory 

The Dominican Republic welcomed millions of travelers during the first half of the year, setting multiple all-time travel records as the country soars in popularity.

For most travelers, a visit to the Dominican Republic occurs problem-free, and visitors can generally look forward to excellent safety in the country’s popular beaches, resort towns, and bustling Downton areas. 

However, several tragic incidents in which foreign visitors have been targeted by organized crime groups or criminals have caused concern among officials, both within the country and abroad. In the most recent shocking case, a U.S. citizen, aged 9, died after being shot by criminals in an attempted robbery in late April.

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A protest in a busy street in the Dominican Republic

While extremely rare, the murder of an innocent victim prompted the United States and Canada to issue new travel warnings for the Dominican Republic, in which travelers are urged to exercise greater precaution while in public. 

This week, the United States updated its travel advisory for the Dominican Republic, citing growing rates of violent crime. However, local tourism organizations say the U.S. has failed to substantiate its claim and to provide evidence of growing crime levels.

Tourist police agent standing in front of an old building

Even so, U.S. citizens are requested to follow essential safety tips when traveling to the Dominican Republic, which is currently under a Level 2 Travel Advisory, the second-lowest warning level. 

The latest U.S. travel warning, reissued on June 6th, mentions that violent crimes, including armed robbery, homicide, and sexual assault are a reality affecting the entire country. While such serious forms of crime rarely affect tourists, the U.S. Department of State recommends that travelers increase their situational awareness at all times, especially in busy public areas.

Dominican Republic flag in a large city

The renewed travel warning has been met with condemnation from the Dominican Hotel and Tourism Association (Asonahores), who claim the tropical island is one of the safest destinations in the region when accounting for the number of crimes per 100,000 visitors, which remains low. 

In another incident last year, robbers disguised as policemen targeted a family of U.S. travelers shortly after they had landed at Cibao International Airport, stealing a great number of valuables.

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Travelers should generally feel welcomed and safe in the Dominican Republic. At the end of the day, no country is entirely shielded from crime, and the Dominican Republic is no exception.

Palm trees and white sand beach in Punta Cana

How safe one feels while traveling to the Caribbean destination depends on several factors, with the type of accommodation and its location being one of the most important factors in overall security.

Destinations like Punta Cana, Samaná, and La Romana are among the safest in the country, especially resort-dense areas with excellent police and law enforcement presence. Moreover, resorts tend to have comprehensive, around-the-clock security guards, ensuring safety at all times.

Motorbike in Punta Cana with three people on it

When it comes to enjoying the Dominican Republic’s culture and city life, acting cautiously can go a long way. Never carry valuables, let alone flaunt them in public, and stick to busy, well-known areas.

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