Last week, the FBI found that two American tourists’ deaths in the Dominican Republic were not due to alcohol poisoning, and rather of natural causes. The findings backed up what Dominican Republic authorities had been saying: There was no wrongdoing in the tourists’ deaths.
According to the State Department, "toxicology testing completed to-date have been consistent with the findings of local authorities. We have seen no increase over the past several years in the number of U.S. citizens who pass away while visiting or living in the Dominican Republic." It adds, in a statement reported by The Hill, that methanol poisoning “was not the finding in any other cases of U.S. citizen deaths investigated by Dominican authorities."
The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) reports the consumer media frenzy over the situation had a negative impact on the travel industry: Over the summer, 58 percent of ASTA’s members reported experiencing trip cancellations or postponements to the Dominican Republic.
Alex Sharpe, president and CEO of Signature Travel Network, said in a statement to Luxury Travel Advisor: “The misrepresentation in the press of several incidents in the Dominican Republic has impacted many who rely on tourism in the Dominican Republic, not to mention the U.S. travel industry that took a considerable hit from panicked guests canceling their plans since the false reports circulated. I hope that this will help us all, in a world of 24-hour news cycles, recognize the repercussions of our words and the importance of sharing facts and not speculation. The widespread impact also shows the importance of a rapid response crisis plan to ensure the facts are shared as widely and as quickly as the rumors and false reports.
“I also regret that many travelers were scared away from what is always a spectacular vacation in the DR. Signature members and staff look forward to quickly restoring confidence to this wonderful island nation and sending them many more guests."
Throughout the summer, the State Department never changed its advisory level for the DR, keeping it at Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution due to crime.
This article originally appeared on www.travelagentcentral.com.