Although the Dominican government insists the country is safe for tourists, and I am of the same opinion, the Level 4 COVID-19 warning from the U.S. will significantly affect tourism in the Dominican Republic.
The U.S. State Department’s recommendations to its citizens, and what appears on the U.S. Embassy’s web page, is a warning not to travel to the Dominican Republic because of COVID-19. This indicates that there is a high level (red alert) of COVID-19 infection.
The change in the U. S. alert from Level 3, which asked people to reconsider travel to the Dominican Republic, occurred last Tuesday, shortly after the Dominican health authorities asserted that they were in control of the pandemic.
Adding to this situation, since Jan. 26, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have required all air passengers who enter the U.S. (including U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents) to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three calendar days before leaving the country, or proof of recovery from the virus in the last 90 days.
The CDC requires airlines to confirm the negative test result or present evidence of recovery for all passengers above the age of two before boarding. The CDC is ordering the airlines to refuse to allow passengers to board the plane if they don’t present documentation of a negative test or recovery.
During his return from a trip to Spain and Andorra, President Luis Abinader declared that U.S. tourists’ safety is guaranteed. He maintained that tourists would not be safer than in the Dominican Republic.
Last July, the government, through the Ministry of Tourism, began reactivating tourist activities, a key part of the Dominican economy, to drive up foreign interest and to create jobs.
The current strategy is to not only promote the benefits of each destination and the effective implementation of health protocols, but also to convince American health authorities, namely the CDC, that there is no danger regarding COVID-19 safety for American tourists.
Also, the country is making progress in vaccinating against the virus, and inoculations for tourist sector employees have already started.
The biggest influx of tourists to the Dominican Republic is from the U.S., and Punta Cana alone receives more than 3 million U.S. tourists.
The average American traveler is very disciplined and follows U.S. health authority recommendations.
With the pandemic, as long as it is not an essential trip, American tourists consult the U.S. State Department’s webpage to understand the status of COVID-19 in the country they wish to travel to.
Although American tourists want to travel, if they see the situation is serious in a potential destination country, they will change their minds and there are plenty of competing locations waiting to be considered.
For example, although Puerto Rico may not have a strong online tourism presence, it stands ready and waiting to greet travelers who change their plans due to COVID-19 restrictions elsewhere. Accordingly, the Dominican tourism minister should take heed.
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