Punta Cana and other locations in the Dominican Republic have become increasingly popular for good reasons. After all, some of the best beaches in the world are in the Dominican Republic, there are loads of hotels and resorts, and tourists can even visit national parks and reserves to take in the country’s mountains, waterfalls, and lagoons.
If you’ve been thinking about a trip to the Dominican Republic, there is an important update you need to know about.
The U.S. Department of State recently issued a “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution” warning for the Dominican Republic due to high crime rates.
“Violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide, and sexual assault, is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic,” the State Department explains.
“The development of a professional tourist police corps, institution of a 911 system in many parts of the country, and a concentration of resources in resort areas means these tend to be better policed than urban areas like Santo Domingo,” the State Department continues. However, “the wide availability of weapons, the use and trade of illicit drugs, and a weak criminal justice system contribute to the high level of criminality on the broader scale.”
As the State Department notes, tourist destinations are generally more policed than larger metro areas, but crime is a threat throughout the Dominican Republic.
For instance, several U.S. citizens have reported that they were robbed by people they met through popular online dating applications while traveling in the Dominican Republic, according to the State Department.
Meanwhile, rape and sexual assault have also been reported throughout the Dominican Republic — including at major resorts and hotels, the State Department continues. Some U.S. citizens have even been targeted with date rape drugs.
Know If You Do Go
If you do decide to travel to the Dominican Republic, the State Department offers some important guidance.
First, always be aware of your surroundings. Travelers should also make sure they do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry, while in the Dominican Republic.
Secondly, always be wary of strangers.
Importantly, if you are robbed, do not physically resist, the State Department advises.
The State Department also urges travelers to follow the advice of resort and tour operators regarding local safety and security concerns while they are in the Dominican Republic.
Finally, the State Department also recommends that travelers enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Enrolling in STEP enables U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to register their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate. That way, travelers can receive important information and updates from the Embassy about safety conditions in their destination country. Enrolling in STEP also makes it easy for the U.S. Embassy to contact travelers in the event of an emergency and for family and friends to contact travelers in case of an emergency.
You can learn more about how to be safe at the State Department’s Best Practices for traveling in the Dominican Republic.
If you’re still thinking about a trip, be sure to also read our Dominican Republic content, including: