John Van den Heuvel, president of Gogo Worldwide Vacations, said companies like Gogo, its Flight Centre Travel Group parent and the travel industry at large have a responsibility to help destinations when they fall on hard times.

That includes the Dominican Republic, where tourism took a hit after the consumer press scrutinized a series of tourist deaths in the country this summer, labeling them "mysterious" and prompting many U.S. travelers to cancel or change bookings. 

For Gogo, Van den Heuvel estimated that year-over-year bookings dropped 50%, with the biggest hits coming in June, July and August.

On the Record

Gogo Worldwide Vacations president John Van den Heuvel spoke about Dominican Republic bookings and what looks like the beginnings of a recovery. Read More

"As the president of Gogo Vacations, I want to support not only our partners but more importantly the destination of the Dominican Republic and the people of the Dominican Republic, who give so much passion to tourism and to their country," Van den Heuvel said. "I also want to help reassure the American traveler that the Dominican Republic is still that tropical paradise that we know it to be and an oasis, really, which tourists from all over the globe can and should enjoy."

That is part of the reason that Flight Centre recently hosted 60 travel advisors from Gogo and its agency brand, Liberty Travel, on an educational trip to the Dominican Republic. The trip included visits to multiple hotels, attractions and shopping venues as well as a panel with government officials and presentations by hoteliers. The advisors were encouraged to share their experiences on social media.

Christina Pedroni, vice president of Liberty Travel, said most of the agents on the trip had been to the Dominican Republic before, but the trip "reminded them of both the natural beauty and the warmth of the people in the destination."

"I think it was the people of the Dominican Republic who motivated them the most," she added.

The trip has reportedly proven effective already. One agent subsequently booked three rooms in Punta Cana for the holidays.

Pedroni said bookings are starting to rise, especially among clients who have been to the Dominican Republic before, but others are still hesitant.

She said, "I believe that the agency community plays a very important part in this, and the more we can share the message of this great destination, the more the customer will come back."

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