Things That Matter

After A Year Of Bad Press, The Dominican Republic Launches Campaign To Bring Tourists Back

After a year of the negative press focused on the suspicious American deaths that occurred in the Dominican Republic earlier this year, the country is launching an integrated marketing campaign aimed to rebuild tourists’ trust in the country. The Dominican Republic had confirmed that the autopsies and toxicology reports were “consistent with natural causes.” The  FBI opened its own investigation into the deaths because of the number of American deaths and concluded that they were “consistent with the findings of local authorities,” according to a statement from the Office of Consular Affairs of the State Department, reported by The Hill. Many suspected methanol poisoning from alcohol in the minibar, but the FBI ruled it out and found the American deaths were from natural causes.

Now, the country is seeking to reclaim its reputation, and it’s looking at Canada.

Canada is the Dominican Republic’s second most important international market after the United States.

Credit: @GoDomRep / Twitter

Cosette Garcia, director of the Dominican Republic’s Tourist Office in Montreal, Canada, told Travel Pulse that Canada’s importance to the Dominican Republic is because it’s a “tour operator” market. “That is to say that almost 100 percent of Canadians who go to the Dominican Republic are tourists,” Garcia says. “For us, this market is therefore of paramount importance.” Basically, the Dominicans that have moved to the United States will continue to return to the island to visit family. Those Dominican-American’s are also far less likely to stay at expensive resorts and spend as much money. It’s a family trip, not a Caribbean vacation like it would be for Canadians.

The country’s Ministry of Tourism office will be promoting its clear ocean waters and luxurious resorts on all platforms.

Credit: @GoDomRep / Twitter

The office has arranged for Canada’s top travel news outlets to travel to Punta Cana, in the hopes that it will revitalize tourism from Canadians this winter. Compared to last year, the country lost 100,000 visitors between January and September of this year. Sensational media reports discredited the Dominican Republic’s investigations into the deaths, fanned by confused and grieving family members calling for the media to investigate. One couple was found dead in their hotel room, and both were determined to have died of respiratory failure. Another grieving family member called on Senator Menendez (NJ) to demand justice for his brother, Joseph E. Allen III. All the while, Dominicans were taking to social media to make sure people stopped trying to cancel the Dominican Republic.

“These are unfortunately sad events, but these are things that happen in every normal tourist destination that receives more than seven million tourists each year,” Garcia told the outlet. “It’s normal to have natural death statistics.”

Officials maintained that the Dominican Republic was “no less safe than it was before,” according to a CNN report.

Credit: @GoDomRep / Twitter

“In the last five years, over 30 million tourists have visited the Dominican Republic, but this is the first time the international media report such an alarming situation,” Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia responded. “These are isolated incidents and the Dominican Republic is a safe destination.” The tourism office is now promoting videos of “real tourists” who are talking about how great their vacation to the island has been.

Even though the FBI has corroborated the Dominican Republic’s credibility, the public still needs some winning over.

Credit: @SoonerManiac / Twitter

The public wants to hear about the minibars, and the country is hoping to quell some irrational fears. “The FBI has debunked all of the false rumors put out by the mainstream media and I’m thankful to be here with companies combatting the issues hurting this destination,” tweeted journalist Paul Smith of Travel SmithsMainstream media created a tourism crisis for the country, and now, the Dominican Republic is marketing both toward tourists and mainstream media alike with a new campaign.

Now, the Dominican Republic is launching its own hashtag campaign: #TheRealDR. 

Credit: @GoDemRep / Twitter

It’s tough because, no matter what Dominican Republic officials said, the families of the deceased didn’t trust it, and that was communicated to the rest of the world. Critics are already using the hashtag to tweet, “#TheRealDR So you’ll see the REAL Dominican Republic by staying at an all-inclusive resort where the staff hates you so much they put poison in the booze and murder you. Great ad, DR.”

“This campaign offers a level of transparency and authenticity like nothing we have ever done before,” Magaly Toribio, the Marketing Advisor for the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism, told Dominican Today. “We are looking forward to sharing the beauty and culture of our country through the words and first-person experiences of our tourists.”

READ: New Safety Measures In The Dominican Republic Following American Deaths

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Anti-Mask Tourists Are Traveling To Puerto Rico And The Island’s Residents Have Had Enough

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Anti-Mask Tourists Are Traveling To Puerto Rico And The Island’s Residents Have Had Enough

Ricardo Arduengo / Getty Images

Despite the pandemic that began impacting travel as far back as February, tourists never stopped coming to Puerto Rico. The island’s government has never restricted travel to/from the island and that has come at the cost of local health care systems and the safety and health of local residents.

This means that delusional anti-maskers from the mainland have been able to visit the island, disregard local rules regarding social distancing and face coverings, and put locals at risk. Now, as the island grapples with an explosion of Covid-19 cases, many locals are demanding the island shut down to nonessential travel.

Protesters in Puerto Rico are calling for an end to irresponsible tourism from the mainland.

In Puerto Rico, protesters have been calling for San Juan’s International Airport to shut down all nonessential travel, as tourists continue to vacation on the island despite rising Covid-19 cases and are often seen not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.

Ricardo Santos, who organized a protest and is a member of the Socialist Workers Movement, told Democracy Now: “We’re not backing down. We’re going to continue this caravan and this struggle, because this is a life-or-death situation, and this governor has not been addressing this issue. So, as we’ve done in the past, the people are going to take matters into their own hands.”

The move comes as many locals say that tourists come to the island with certain attitudes and disrespect local rules.

Whether it’s because they believe in silly conspiracy theories or complain that it’s ‘too hot’ to wear a mask, tourists without masks have arrived in droves to the island – where many locals see them as an extension of a long history of brutal colonialism. Many tourists to the island have little to no regard for the health or well-being of those who call the island home and they’re even less conscious of the fact that the island’s health care system is still in shambles since Hurricane Maria.

Although face masks are technically required in all public areas, few tourists seem to follow the guidelines. In fact, a fine of up to $5,000 can be slapped on anyone who isn’t wearing a covering on their mouth and nose. Not only are many tourists ignoring the rule, it’s often leading to violent confrontations.

A few weeks ago, a group of women visiting San Juan’s biggest mall allegedly retaliated against a Zara employee’s request that they wear masks by damaging at least $2,000 in merchandise.

Later in July, a man – a resident of the island but from the mainland – spat in the face of a grocery store worker who asked him to put on a mask.  In a video circulating online, the man said a security guard retaliated by hitting him with a golf club. The following day, a woman was reportedly physically struck after refusing to wear a mask in La Perla, the historic neighborhood that runs alongside Old San Juan, which has become a tourist destination since the 2017 video for Justin Bieber’s remix of Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s runaway hit “Despacito” was filmed there.

Many local workers who serve the tourist economy said that visitors are irritated by the mandatory touchless temperature scan and hand sanitation policy. 

“They have attitudes when they get here,” one worker told the Daily Beast. “One said she was going to ‘die of retardation’ for taking her temperature. Another complained about the sanitizer: They said, ‘Ew, what is that?’” 

Tourism is big business for Puerto Rico – but many say now is not the time.

Credit: Jose Jimenez / Getty Images

Tourism in Puerto Rico is a $1.8 billion industry annually, and though the island never closed its borders, officials had announced a formal “reopening” date of July 15, when visitors were welcome to return. But thanks to rising cases of Covid-19, that ‘reopening’ date has since been pushed back a month to August 15.

To help facilitate the reopening, a new order will require all visitors show a negative Covid-19 test at the airport in order to enter the island, or be tested voluntarily at the airport by a National Guard team. The curfew, which was previously set to end on June 22, is still in place from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. every night. 

But for residents, none of this makes sense. Police have threatened Puerto Ricans with exorbitant fines and even arrest for being out past curfew. Alleyways that would usually be teeming with people dancing to live salsa were barren. Yet locals continue to see tourists step out the door of their Airbnb, hand in hand, no mask, to take in a sunset or grab something to eat. Locals feel like they’re on lockdown while visitors are on a worry free vacation.

Like many places across the U.S., Puerto Rico has been hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: Ricardo Arduengo / Getty Images

As of July 29, the island has seen more than 16,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 211 people have died of the virus. These numbers have been rising in recent weeks as

Puerto Rico was initially praised for being one of the first U.S. jurisdictions to put drastic measures in place, such as implementing an islandwide curfew and banning cruise ships, as well as closing schools and all nonessential businesses, to avoid overwhelming the island’s fragile health care system in March.

But a recent surge in COVID-19 cases has coincided with Puerto Rico’s efforts to reopen nonessential businesses and tourist attractions. Over the past week, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases jumped by more than 1,000, while the number of probable cases increased by almost 1,300.

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People Are Using Social Media to Highlight Racism On The Islands

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People Are Using Social Media to Highlight Racism On The Islands

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

The world is paying attention to racism in the world right now. The Black Lives Matter movement has gone international and people are starting to call out racism everywhere they see it. This means shining a light on racism on social media to really highlight the issue.

Afro-Caribbean people are using #AquíNoExisteElRacismoPero and #PeroNoSomosRacists to highlight racism.

Social media users are sharing their experiences with racism on the Caribbean islands and the hashtags speak volumes. The hashtags translate to #ButWeAreNotRacists and #ThereIsNoRacismHereBut are being used to highlight racism in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

There is an understood in the Latino community that racism runs deep but it is often ignored. Culturally, it has plagued the Latino community for generations with microaggressions about hair and “bettering the race.” It is something that we need to address and these hashtags are calling it out.

Some Dominicans are highlighting the microaggressions that have existed for as long as time.

Microaggressions are some of the most common and annoying moments of racism around. They are little but when there are enough they really add up fast. They are all around and are said so often that people often ignore them when they are said. “Pelo malo” one of the most common examples of racist microaggressions in the Latino community. It is always Afro-Latinos who have “pelo malo.”

The hair microaggressions are some of the earliest.

Twitter users are coming forward with stories of having their hair relaxed and chemically treated to be “better.” The focus on Euro-centric beauty within the Afro-Latino community is toxic and instilling it in children so young is a traumatic and hurtful experience.

Some people have been able to use the experience to empower themselves.

People who can take a moment like this ad grow from it are the kind of people you want to know. You go with your self-acceptance and love. There is nothing more beautiful than being yourself and learning to love all of you is a journey so many have to make.

There are so many microaggressions that have become far to familiar in our community and we have to fight against them.

Cosas que escuché en mi entorno mientras crecía :"En nuestra familia no hay negros""Mijito tienes que mejorar la raza…

Posted by Stefano Navarro on Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Things I heard in my surroundings growing up:
“There are no black in our family.”
“Mijito you have to improve the race.”
“Marry a white girl.”
“You’re not black, you’re tricky, don’t say that again.”
“I’m not black, I’m brunette.”
“You mean the black I was selling….”
“You work like black.”
“You sweat like black.”
“Your kids came out happily white.”
“You smell like black.”
#PeroNoSomosRacistas

READ: 8 Racist Habits Latinos Seriously Need To Drop

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