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The Dominican Republic: To go or not to go?
By Kitty Bean Yancey, USA TODAY
While Haitians suffer from earthquake devastation, some planning a vacation in the neighboring Dominican Republic are thinking twice.
Roger Vanderpool of Kansas City, Mo., says he and wife Glenda have pulled out of a Jan. 30 trip to the beach mecca of Punta Cana. “Conditions would not have made it easy to relax while so many others were suffering” on the other side of the island both countries share, says Vanderpool, who is in his late 50s.
Arthur Mehmel, whose TourScan agency sells Caribbean trips said no one had been booking Haiti’s neighbor this week. “I offered someone the Dominican Republic, and they said, ‘I can’t go — it’s too close to the disaster.’ “
Others are going ahead with plans after giving the matter some thought.
“I’ve made my donation through my church to the Haitians,” says Cindy Gorgone, 52, of Fairfax, Va. She and three friends plan to leave today for Punta Cana on a girls’ getaway.
“I believe we will be supporting the (Dominican) economy by going,” says Gorgone, who planned to fill her carry-on with clothes to give away either to Dominican Republic Haitian relief charities or to locals.
Of like mind is Marc Johns, 44, who lives near Lenox, Mass. He is a DR regular and participates in TripAdvisor’s Punta Cana forum, where some express concern about crime spillover from Haiti (Port-au-Prince is about 300 miles away and a long, hard trek over mountains and subpar roads).
To Johns, “it doesn’t make sense to punish (Dominicans). Many are poor, he says, and “a lot of menial jobs (at resorts) there are done by Haitians.”
Adds Abiezer Moyet, 42, of Miami Lakes, Fla.: “I would not change vacation plans. By doing so you are … probably contributing to higher unemployment and actually having a much higher negative impact on the area.”
Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism said in a statement that the nation’s resorts are operating normally and that it is offering aid to its neighbor.
The statement reads, in part: “The Dominican Republic is making available its medical facilities for earthquake victims and is providing international relief organizations access to Haiti through the airport and seaports. … (We) open our hearts to our neighbors and will continue to do everything we can to help them and reassure global travelers that the Dominican Republic is receiving visitors.”
Tim Grisham, 33, of Washington, D.C., says travelers should help out troubled spots. “My wife and I were considering a trip to the Dominican Republic in the spring. I don’t think much has changed. These countries rely on tourism. If the people stop coming, then what?”

By Kitty Bean Yancey, USA TODAYWhile Haitians suffer from earthquake devastation, some planning a vacation in the neighboring Dominican Republic are thinking twice.Roger Vanderpool of Kansas City, Mo., says he and wife Glenda have pulled out of a Jan. 30 trip to the beach mecca of Punta Cana. “Conditions would not have made it easy to relax while so many others were suffering” on the other side of the island both countries share, says Vanderpool, who is in his late 50s.
Arthur Mehmel, whose TourScan agency sells Caribbean trips said no one had been booking Haiti’s neighbor this week. “I offered someone the Dominican Republic, and they said, ‘I can’t go — it’s too close to the disaster.’ ”
Others are going ahead with plans after giving the matter some thought.
“I’ve made my donation through my church to the Haitians,” says Cindy Gorgone, 52, of Fairfax, Va. She and three friends plan to leave today for Punta Cana on a girls’ getaway.
“I believe we will be supporting the (Dominican) economy by going,” says Gorgone, who planned to fill her carry-on with clothes to give away either to Dominican Republic Haitian relief charities or to locals.
Of like mind is Marc Johns, 44, who lives near Lenox, Mass. He is a DR regular and participates in TripAdvisor’s Punta Cana forum, where some express concern about crime spillover from Haiti (Port-au-Prince is about 300 miles away and a long, hard trek over mountains and subpar roads).
To Johns, “it doesn’t make sense to punish (Dominicans). Many are poor, he says, and “a lot of menial jobs (at resorts) there are done by Haitians.”
Adds Abiezer Moyet, 42, of Miami Lakes, Fla.: “I would not change vacation plans. By doing so you are … probably contributing to higher unemployment and actually having a much higher negative impact on the area.”
Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism said in a statement that the nation’s resorts are operating normally and that it is offering aid to its neighbor.
The statement reads, in part: “The Dominican Republic is making available its medical facilities for earthquake victims and is providing international relief organizations access to Haiti through the airport and seaports. … (We) open our hearts to our neighbors and will continue to do everything we can to help them and reassure global travelers that the Dominican Republic is receiving visitors.”
Tim Grisham, 33, of Washington, D.C., says travelers should help out troubled spots. “My wife and I were considering a trip to the Dominican Republic in the spring. I don’t think much has changed. These countries rely on tourism. If the people stop coming, then what?”

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