Dominican Republic to enhance food and drink inspections after tourist deaths

Sara M Moniuszko
The Dominican Republic is amping up safety measures, including enhancing food and rink inspections, after a spate of tourist deaths.

The Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism is amping up safety measures after the Caribbean vacation destination made headlines for a spate of tourist deaths.

Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier García announced Thursday that programs are being implemented immediately throughout the country to strengthen travelers' confidence, according to a press release.

Most notably, as some deaths have reportedly happened after tourists have consumed alcohol from hotel mini-bars, the new measures include tightening inspections on food and beverages in tourist destinations. 

Hotels will be specifically required to "provide inspectors with detailed food handling protocols as well as comprehensive information on all food and beverage suppliers," the release states.

The department will also continue to "closely monitor" hotels' medical offices and professional qualification of their doctors, nurses and other staff.

Additional measures include an emergency center that is being set-up in Bávaro, a tourist destination in Punta Cana. The center, which will be staffed by multilingual specialists, will liaison between tourists, families and government officials.

Emergency information mandates will also be "reinforced," which includes making sure 911 information is clearly posted in every guest room. Hotel staff will also be required to review emergency information with guests during check-in.

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These new safety measures come after García held a press conference in late June to dispel concerns about deaths in the country, stating, "The Dominican Republic is a safe country.

He also said the confirmed deaths are not out of the ordinary and that the number of tourist deaths is actually lower than in some previous years. 

The State Department confirmed Tuesday that a Georgia man died in the Dominican Republic in March, bringing the number of confirmed U.S. tourist deaths there this year to 10.

Flight bookings to the Caribbean vacation destination have begun rebounding since hitting a low point around the third week of June.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dominican Republic to strengthen safety measures after tourist deaths