59% of travel advisors have clients nixing D.R. trips

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Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Photo Credit: Preto Perola/Shutterstock

An ASTA survey finds that 59% of travel advisors have clients who are canceling or postponing trips to the Dominican Republic, presumably due to the highly publicized tourist deaths on the island. 

ASTA reports that 31% of advisors don't have clients canceling or postponing Dominican Republic trips, while the remaining 10% wrote in varying answers (for instance, that they don't have active Dominican Republic bookings). ASTA surveyed nearly 300 agents.

Nearly 80% of respondents have clients booked on current or future Dominican Republic trips. 

Confidence that the Dominican Republic is a safe destination appears to be waning. In total, 55% said their clients are "very concerned" about traveling to the island, while 32% said they were "somewhat concerned." Nine percent said their clients were "neutral, not very concerned," and 4% said they were "not concerned at all."

ASTA asked advisors what measures they were taking for clients with concerns about the destination. Thirty-eight percent are taking the approach of "wait and see" to find out more information, while 37% are rebooking clients to a new destination. Six percent said they were cancelling or postponing the reservations. The remaining 19% wrote in other answers, like "all of the above" or "advising clients to be cautious." Several said they won't book travel to the Dominican Republic.

Most advisors say the reported tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic will have an impact on their clients' willingness to travel to the island in the future. Forty-four percent believe the impact will be "substantial," while 34% said they believe it will be "moderate." Twenty-two percent of advisors believe any impact will be temporary.

Packagers, too, are feeling the effects.

Apple Vacations said it has seen "steep cancellations" of trips to the Dominican Republic since the beginning of June, but it is hopeful that the destination will return to normal soon.

"We are encouraged that recent media coverage has started to present a more accurate, data-oriented picture, noting that the number of traveler issues in the Dominican Republic are not unusual given the number of tourists and are actually well below many other areas, including some in the U.S. like Las Vegas, that are considered safe," Apple Vacations said in a statement.

While Delta Vacations said there has been a spike in calls, "the majority" of customers heading to the Dominican Republic are not changing their plans.

Both companies have implemented special change policies.

Delta Vacations said customers who booked a trip to the Dominican Republic through Aug. 15 can change their travel to a different destination without paying change fees but must pay for airfare increases.

Apple Vacations has in some cases lowered change and cancellation fees for travelers depending on how far out they are from their departure.

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