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.