The Dominican Republic has been a hotspot for Black travelers for a long time. Whether for medical tourism, business, or pleasure, the DR has become one of the culture’s favorite international, tropical destinations. However, the US State Department is warning travelers planning on visiting anytime soon. 

On Tuesday, June 6, the agency issued a level 2 travel advisory for the Caribbean country. According to its website, the department warns of “violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide, and sexual assault is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic.”

travel advisory
Photo Credit: Aleksandar Pasaric

Regional Efforts To Address Crime

Despite being a prime destination for American travelers, the DR has been a hotspot for crime for quite some time. According to Dialago Americas, leaders from Central America, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic came together in April to strategize against crime in the countries. 

“These criminal phenomena are not new. What is new is that we are confronting them regionally,” Guatemala’s Minister of the Interior David Napoleón Barrientos told Guatemalan Daily Prensa Libre. “Each of the countries has its own strategies. We’ve discussed and shared them […]; the idea is to generate regional plans and protocols. This will be done by each country’s specialists at the roundtables.”

While the meeting in April centered more around organized crime and drug and human trafficking, the new US travel advisory focuses on the numerous accounts of sexual assault from American tourists visiting the DR. 

According to USA Today, one American woman claims she was drugged and sexually assaulted while in the Dominican Republic. The tourist says she ordered a drink at a bar and lost recollection of what happened after she received it. Unfortunately, the travel advisory warns Americans that rape prosecution in the Dominican Republic varies greatly from legalities in the States. 

“Sexual assault victims in the Dominican Republic should not expect the totality of assistance offered in the United States,” the travel advisory said. The advisory also tells travelers not to resist robbery attempts and to follow all local rules and regulations to avoid harm. 

Safety Tips For Travel To The Dominican Republic

Areas near resorts and tourist attractions are safer than urban areas like Santo Domingo, the advisory states. The advisory does state that since the creation of the country’s 911 hotline, some areas of the Dominican Republic are safer than others. However, travelers should still avoid dark, secluded areas, and beaches at night. 

Travelers should also take precautionary measures when using local taxi services and utilize rideshare apps like Uber instead.