The Majestic Elegance Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic closed Thursday and doesn’t plan to reopen until November 7 in the wake of “thousands of cancellations” on the heels of negative media reports that have devastated the Caribbean country’s tourism industry.
The resort made headlines earlier this year when a Delaware woman claimed she was brutally attacked there while on vacation with her husband in January. Fifty-one-year-old Tammy Lawrence-Daley is suing Majestic Resorts for $3 million.
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“As you may know during the last few months the Dominican Republic, and specifically Punta Cana, has been portrayed in the media negatively based on isolated issues not related to each other. As a result, thousands of cancelations have come our way for our three resorts in Punta Cana,” Ricardo Espinosa, Majestic Resorts Vice President of Sales and Marketing, wrote in a letter to travel partners earlier this month.
“Despite the cancelations, we were able to maintain 60 percent occupancy for our resorts during June, July and the first half of August. However, the situation is completely different for the second half of August as well as September and October.”
Espinosa said all guests booked at Majestic Elegance Punta Cana will be upgraded to the Majestic Mirage Punta Cana in the same room category or higher.
“By doing this we hope to reach 60 percent occupancy during this period at Majestic Colonial Punta Cana and Majestic Mirage Punta Cana to offer our guests a better quality experience. Additionally, we will take this time to upgrade some areas at Majestic Elegance Punta Cana but no major renovation will take place,” he added.
Sales for the resort will remain open while the rooms, bars and restaurants are closed this fall.
A recent report by global travel intelligence company ForwardKeys showed that flight cancellations to the Dominican Republic were beginning to slow, mirroring the sensationalized news coverage conflating the incidents that prevailed for much of the summer.
Throughout it all, the U.S. State Department never updated its Level 2 travel advisory for the country. Rather, State Department statistics show that Americans are more likely to be killed in a homicide in the U.S. than die of unnatural causes in the Dominican Republic.
“We have unequivocally shown that there is not an avalanche of deaths of American tourists in the country and it is not true that there are mysterious deaths,” Dominican Republic Minister of Tourism, Francisco Javier Garcia said this past June.
TravelPulse founder and CEO Mark Murphy—who recently interviewed American Idol stars performing at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana about their experiences in the Dominican Republic—said the lack of connection between the incidents should give travelers “comfort.”
“If 8 million Americans have traveled to the Dominican Republic in the last four years alone, I’d feel pretty confident,” he told Fox Business.