The eye of powerful Hurricane Maria is expected to skirt the northern and eastern coasts of the Dominican Republic, likely sparing resort-heavy Punta Cana from a direct hit.

The National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane watch for Punta Cana, Samana, Puerto Plata, Sosua and Cabarete. A tropical storm watch is in effect from Puerto Plata west to Bahia de Manzanillo.

Several tour operators are evacuating their customers. Canadian airline/tour operator Sunwing has suspended flights into Punta Cana and Puerto Plata, and is operating extra flights to get customers out.

The hotel sector has activated protocols to protect visitors, according to the Dominican Republic's Ministry of Tourism. For example, the Eden Roc at Cap Cana has contacted guests slated to arrive in the coming days and urged them to change their dates of stay. The hotel has few guests now and expects to have no guests on site during the storm.

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