I first visited the Dominican Republic in the early 2000s and have gone nearly every year since. It’s hard to turn away stunning beaches, fantastic weather year round and a rich culture. When news began breaking this past summer of numerous Americans dying while on vacation in the Dominican Republic it really shocked me. My last trip to the DR was in February of this year and everything was amazing as usual…

Next year was set to be our first trip as a family to this amazing Caribbean paradise as we normally leave our daughter to enjoy time with her grandparents back in the US. However, next year we had planned to bring our beautiful daughter, but the recent news had me second guessing whether or not I should be taking my family there. With today’s access to news and content online I jumped down the rabbit hole and began doing my research.

I found a common thread between a lot of the mainstream media sources: they seemed to sell headlines of “mystery deaths,” tainted alcohol and contaminated food. However, these headlines were based on nothing more than assumptions as there had been no conclusive evidence at the time of publishing them. I dug further and further and found that there is in fact nothing mysterious about the tourist deaths this year. While therewere a string of deaths which happened within a short period of time, they were merely a series of unrelated natural deaths.

It hurt to learn that the media had done so much hurt a travel destination which in reality had done nothing wrong. Now we couldopen up the discussion of “fake news,” but the reality is that in this case the tourism industry in the Dominican Republic was severely impacted by these headlines. While the country was on track for another record-breaking year in terms of tourism, which accounts for 17% of its GDP, July and August saw a significant decline in arriving travelers due to the headlines. With millions of dollars lost, the country must regroup and has done so swiftly by improving on the already high-standards it had set in place for tourist safety.

So is Punta Cana safe? Well recent FBI toxicology reports of the deceased travelers is a huge piece in proving that it is indeed safe and in repairing the damaged image. The Dominican Republic is still an amazing travel destination which was unfortunately misrepresented by numerous American news sources, but the road to recovery is already in place and there is no reason to fear a trip to my favorite travel destination!