According to a new study, the flight bookings to the Dominican Republic in the coming popular holiday months of July and August fell by 74 percent. The alleged decline is due to reports of mysterious illnesses and multiple deaths of American tourists in the island nation this year.
Air travel to the DR has dropped 74.3 percent year-over-year over the next two months, reports the New York Post. citing a new report by ForwardKeys, which analyzes travel trends from 17 million flight bookings per day.
According to the results, cancellations on June 10 rose a whopping 70 percent, on the day Leyla Cox suddenly died in a luxury resort in Punta Cana.
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ForwardKeys Vice President Olivier Ponti expressed his condolences to American tourists' families, CBS reports.
"My deepest sympathy goes to the families of the deceased American tourists. Their recent and tragic deaths seem to have had a dramatic impact on traveling to the Dominican Republic, "said Ponti. "Our analysis of vacation travel shows a striking correlation."
"For the Dominican Republic, this represents a terrible image crisis, as the US is the most important source market for tourism as a travel destination and its economy is highly dependent on foreign visitors," he continued.
An expert on Dominican tourism told Fox News last week that the country should expect a temporary decline in visitors this summer. especially from the USA.
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The officer talked about the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about this matter.
"I think the (down) curve started in June and will continue in July before recovering in August and September," the source said. However, he warned that if the Dominican authorities did not determine the cause of death for the victims, it could soon be just as damaging to the island's tourism industry as the disappearance of American teenager Natalie Holloway in May 2005 in Aruba.
"If this is not found out, it will be a disaster [for the country]," he claimed.
Meanwhile, flight bookings for other Caribbean islands have risen – including Jamaica (26 percent), the Bahamas (44.5 percent) and Aruba (31.3 percent). Fox Business reports.
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For some of the major domestic carriers, Delta Air Lines allows passengers to rebook or cancel their travel plans for the Dominican Republic at no additional charge.
Other major airlines, including United and American, have confirmed to Fox News that airlines are negotiating with passengers on a case-by-case basis.
"Certainly our top priority is to continue monitoring events in the Dominican Republic," United Airlines wrote in a statement by Fox News. "We have not waived travel at this point, but we will work with clients on a case-by-case basis."
Southwest plans to allow customers to cancel travel plans up to one hour prior to the scheduled flight "Full Credit" , Travel advice or not.
Fox News & # 39; Lucia I. Suarez Sang and Michael Bartiromo contributed to this report.