Flight bookings from the US to the Dominican Republic are making a slow recovery — following a dramatic slump amid the recent string of mysterious tourist deaths in the Caribbean nation, new data shows.
A report compiled by ForwardKeys, which analyzes more than 17 million flight bookings each day, shows that the worst may be over when it comes to the dip in bookings to the country.
In July and August, bookings from the US to the Dominican Republic fell by 84.4 percent compared to the same period in 2018, the data shows.
Daily statistics indicate that bookings bottomed on June 19 — two days after the death of Long Island pizzeria owner Vittorio Caruso, 56, of Glen Cove, whose sister-in-law said he suddenly went into respiratory distress after “drinking something.”
But things changed course on June 26, when bookings again began to exceed cancellations, the data reveals.
In the two months prior to the May 30 deaths of engaged couple Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Day — who were found dead at the Bahía Príncipe hotel — bookings to the country were actually up 2.8 percent, ForwardKeys said.
Even as bookings to the embattled nation declined, scheduled flights to other Caribbean destinations — notably Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Aruba, surged.
But as bookings to the Dominican Republic have started to regroup, the level of interest in those islands is simultaneously declining, according to the research.
“The deaths of US citizens which occurred around the end of May and early June triggered an avalanche of media interest and speculation,” ForwardKeys insights vice president Olivier Ponti said in a statement. “That kind of attention was bound to put some holidaymakers off and indeed that is what we saw.”
“I am greatly relieved for the Dominican Republic that the crisis in confidence appears to be abating and I am hopeful that it will be relatively short-lived, particularly if there are no more deaths and if the current FBI investigation establishes a clear cause of death in each case and none of the causes was sinister,” he added.
The FBI has been assisting Dominican authorities in investigating the deaths of at least eight Americans, including running toxicology tests on alcohol samples from resorts. Bootleg alcohol is being eyed as a possible cause — because some of the tourists died after drinking from the mini-bar in their rooms.”