Espaillat, Schumer Dispel Myths About DR Tourism

Rep. Adriano Espaillat and Sen. Charles Schumer reassure the public of the DR's safety (photo by William Engel)
Rep. Adriano Espaillat and Sen. Charles Schumer reassure the public of the DR’s safety (photo by William Engel)

Contrary to what some recent news would have you believe, Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-Washington Heights, Sugar Hill) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) want to reassure you that the Dominican Republic is still a safe, beautiful, wonderful country to visit.

“We are crucial partners with the Dominican Republic as a country,” said Schumer. “So why are we here today? Four words: visit the Dominican Republic. It is safe. That’s what we want to assure people. It’s as safe as any other tourist destination. And somehow, the bottom line is that people think it isn’t. But it is. The United States is committed to supporting economic development in the Dominican Republic, and the best way we can do that is encourage people to travel there.”

Espaillat and Schumer held a press conference on the matter last Friday afternoon. The conference took place in the lobby of the Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center, 530 West 166th St.

In the past year, 10 American citizens have died in the Dominican Republic. Although several of them died of natural causes, the statistic has had a deleterious effect on the Dominican tourism industry. According to ForwardKeys, summer bookings from the United States to the Dominican Republic in 2019 went down 74.3 percent compared to the previous year.

But Adriano Espaillat remained firm in his stance that the Dominican Republic is a perfectly safe destination to travel to. After all, he should know; he goes there every year.

“As you know, there have been a lot of stories about the Dominican Republic and the safety and well-being of the tourism industry,” said Espaillat. “I myself, several weeks ago, traveled to the Dominican Republic as a tourist, as I do every year. I love the beach. The Dominican Republic has some of the best beaches in the world.”

That said, Espaillat clarified that he did not intend to trivialize the deaths of the American tourists that took place in the past year.

“We are very sorry about the deaths that have occurred,” said Espaillat. “We have sent out a statement that the authorities in the Dominican Republic must get to the bottom of that. And I think they’ve done a good effort in doing that.”

Espaillat went on to elaborate on what the authorities have done in the wake of the deaths. The Dominican government has strengthened its security measures, instating a 911 system that Espaillat called “very reliable”. The system was constructed with the assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Furthermore, said Espaillat, they’ve relayed information about their new system directly to tourists.

“Tourists, very often, leave the compound,” said Espaillat. “They leave the hotel, and they go out to towns and other areas within the country. So if anyone gets hurt, they have to know who to call. So now they’re sending that information directly to tourists. It’s easily accessible.”

Regardless, Espaillat and Schumer’s main thesis was as follows; statistically, the Dominican Republic is a perfectly safe place to visit.

“I encourage anybody to fly to the Dominican Republic,” said Schumer. “We’re sorry for what has happened there, but there has not been an uptick [in violence] compared to other countries. Even the homicide rate there is very low when you compare it to other countries – including Costa Rica, the Switzerland of Latin America. So I encourage everyone here to travel there. I will be traveling there again soon.”