WASHINGTON, DC – Today, representative Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) released his report of recommendations to improve security models for the protection of tourists to the Dominican Republic following his visit to the country earlier this month during which he met with tourism industry leaders and officials from the United Sates Embassy.
“I am deeply concerned about the recent deaths of U.S. citizens visiting the Dominican Republic,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13). “My office will do everything we can to get answers and understand these cases. The Dominican Republic, though, continues to be one of the top tourist destinations for Americans.
“As the State Department has noted, ‘We have not seen an uptick in the number of U.S. citizen deaths reported to the Department.’ The U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic has stated, ‘than 2.7 million U.S. citizens visit the Dominican Republic each year,’ and that the Ambassador and the Embassy team in the Dominican Republic ‘have met with the President, Attorney General, Tourism Minister, Foreign Minister, Health Minister, and the heads of the Dominican National Police and Tourism Police to offer U.S. law enforcement support in local efforts, and to urge a rapid, thorough and transparent investigation process on behalf of U.S. citizens.’
“In light of these facts, I encourage everyone to continue to view the Dominican Republic as a preeminent tourist destination. Based on the discussions I had with Dominican and American officials when I was on the island, I submit the following recommendations on ways to help strengthen U.S. – D.R. relations to ensure that the safety of travelers remains a top priority, as well as to ensure that the Dominican Republic continues to be a world-class tourist destination in the Caribbean.
“Recommendations for Tourist Safety and Improved Conditions in the Tourism Industry Upon Returning from the Dominican Republic
-Continuing to deepen coordination between the Dominican Republic’s Attorney General’s Office and U.S. law enforcement agencies, including the ATF and FBI, will help to understand the facts on any case involving the death of a U.S. citizen in a timely manner.
-The Dominican Government can engage in third-party contracts to help ensure that necessary and proper facilities are available for law enforcement to undertake independent, thorough and efficient forensic autopsies and toxicology reports.
-In order to better ensure public safety of tourist destinations across the island, the Dominican Government can increase the capacity of Cuerpo Especializado de Seguridad Turística (CESTUR), the country’s specialist police corps dedicated to tourism.
-The Tourism Ministry should continue to work with hotels to ensure that tourists and guests have readily available access to emergency services and standardized information on emergency services, such as how to contact the local 9-1-1 system, posted in hotel rooms and as a hand-out upon arriving at all hotels and resorts.
-The Tourism Ministry can build upon existing international standards for monitoring the quality of food and alcohol offered at hotels and resorts by conducting a stronger, second tier review.
-The Tourism Ministry can ensure the safety and health of tourists by offering access to affordable emergency health services during their stay. This can be done by providing health insurance coverage in tourism packages.