By August 2021, about a year after the Dominican Republic reopened to tourism, you might have noticed something intriguing if you happened to be looking at Kayak.com’s flight trends. The Dominican Republic was the only country that consistently displayed green for more than a month. This meant they were generating more search interest than two years ago.
The country had a good month in September, December and November. Prepandemic levels were exceeded by tourism numbers, while coronavirus cases remained low at between 100 and 300 per day. Then Omicron came. On Jan. 12, a record 7 439 people tested positive for Covid in Dominican Republic. This was more than any other day of the pandemic. Eight Covid-related deaths were also reported in the country on December 29. This is more than any day in months.
“The hospitals are full; children, old people, everyone, sick with Covid,” said Dr. Senén Caba, the president of the Colegio Médico.
He blamed the government’s lax entry policy for the suffering. Although the majority of people who work in the tourism industry are young, healthy, and vaccinated, they still have the potential to transmit the virus to their families. Only 54 percent are fully vaccinated.
According to the tourism ministry the spike is not a reason to adjust the country’s approach.
“Omicron is everywhere,” and testing requirements offer countries little more than the illusion of security, Ms. Mora said. In a recent statement Willie Walsh, director general of International Air Transport Association (a trade organization that represents nearly 300 airlines), repeated this argument.
Asked if interacting with potentially contagious visitors all day made him nervous, Maiken Mercedes, a server at Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana, said, “What gives me fear is not the virus, it’s not making money for my family.” Other employees in the hospitality industry also expressed concerns that more restrictions would mean fewer guests.
But there has to be a way to encourage responsible tourism, said Ivan Lorenzo, a senator for the Dominican province of Elías Piña, which shares a border with Haiti.
Source: NY Times