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Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, is popular with US and European tourists. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, is popular with US and European tourists.

New focus on MX due to insecurity in Dominican Republic: travel agents

Some 'anywhere but Mexico' clients have changed their minds

The deaths of at least nine United States tourists in the Dominican Republic over the past year are providing a boost to Mexican tourism.

North Carolina travel agent Heather Di Pietro told the travel site Travel Market Report that she has “definitely seen a slight swing in clients revisiting Mexico as an option” as the result of the Dominican Republic deaths, some of which might have been caused by tainted alcohol.

“We have even had a few clients who booked months ago stating ‘anywhere but Mexico’ during the booking process, that have now switched their vacation to Cancún,” she said.

Travel Market Report said that statistics in its upcoming report 2019 Outlook on Mexico also show that travelers who disregarded the idea of coming to Mexico because of security concerns – or other issues such as sargassum or tainted alcohol –  are now looking at the country again.

Just over half of the 800 U.S. travel agencies surveyed by the travel site said that clients who don’t want to visit the Dominican Republic because of news of the tourists’ deaths are now looking at Mexico.

“What’s happening in Punta Cana and the Dominican Republic right now definitely put Mexico back as the frontrunner again. Now, with all the Dominican Republic stuff, I push Mexico more,” said New Jersey travel agent Maria Tilton.

I am getting . . . higher bookings to Mexico because of the DR thing, but it’s not the way you want them.”

Michelle Bouzek, a travel consultant in Austin, Texas, who has been selling vacations to Mexico for 11 years, also said that she is seeing increased interest in traveling to Mexico.

However, Tilton acknowledged that Mexico still isn’t an easy sell because of the pervasiveness of violence in the news.

“Every time something happens in the media, it just sets us back 10 steps,” she said.

The anecdotal evidence that more Americans are looking at visiting Mexico comes the same week as the Visit México tourism promotion platform was relaunched with private sector funding.

The site’s new chief, Marcos Achar, expressed optimism that the updated platform will help to attract more visitors to the country.

Tourism experts said in March that the government’s decision to disband the Tourism Promotion Council will benefit other holiday destinations in the region such as Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

However, that was before the deaths in the latter country hit the headlines.

Dominican Republic Tourism Minister Javier García told reporters in June that the deaths were not part of a mysterious wave of fatalities but a medically and statistically normal phenomenon that has been lumped together and sensationalized by United States media.

He said that autopsies showed that the tourists died of natural causes.

Source: Travel Market Report (en), Associated Press (en), The New York Times (en) 

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