U.S. State Department tell tourists to exercise increased caution when visiting the Dominican Republic

Take increased caution visiting the Dominican Republic

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Sharon Kunkel makes it a point to schedule a family trip at least once a year to create memories. This year, the destination was supposed to be the Dominican Republic.

“It was a place I was curious about and we heard wonderful things about the beautiful beaches,” said Kunkel.

But due to the recent deaths of American tourists, Kunkel says her family made the tough decision to cancel their trip. “So we’re traveling with our whole family and we have to be especially careful when you’re with kids of any age. I just want to be sure that I’m safe as well as having a wonderful time,” said Kunkel.

Triple A travel agent Sue Fitzgerald says Kunkel is not alone. She says quite a few people have already canceled trips to the country.

“Some people are just a little more concerned than others about where they are traveling to and the safety. I think if people are traveling with families they tend to be a little more concerned. Anywhere in the world there are difficulties, even the United States,” said Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald points out that it’s all about being careful when you’re overseas. The state department issued a Level 2 advisory in April urging travelers to use increased caution. Fitzgerald also recommends S.T.E.P. - the Smart Travelers Enrollment Program.

“And that program will alert you to any major incidents that are going on throughout the world and keep you alert if for any reason the Dominican Republic turns to a 3 as opposed to a 2, it would alert you immediately,” said Fitzgerald.

As for Kunkel, her family opted for Montego Bay, Jamaica. "For an all exclusive resort experience. We are so fortunate when you consider there are people who have lost their lives while expecting to have the time of their lives. So it’s sad and I hope they figure out what’s going on,” said Kunkel.

Now F.B.I. investigators are now part of the mix trying to figure out if there are any common denominators.

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