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US issues travel advisory for Caribbean hotspot amid violence, sex assault concerns

The State Department on Tuesday issued a travel advisory for Americans looking to hit the Dominican Republic, a top Caribbean destination, amid an increase in violent crime and sexual assaults. 

A yellow flag-level two advisory was issued urging travelers heading to the Caribbean hotspot to “exercise increased caution.”

“Violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic,” the department said in its advisory. “The wide availability of weapons, the use and trade of illicit drugs, and a weak criminal justice system contribute to the high level of criminality on the broader scale.”

a Dominican Republic beach

Playa Blanca beach in Dominican Republic (Cristina Perez/VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

SHARK BITES LEG OFF AMERICAN TOURIST IN TURKS AND CAICOS: REPORT

The State Department noted that Americans looking to travel to resorts are likely safer as these areas “tend to be better policed than urban areas like Santo Domingo.”

The implementation of a 911 emergency call system in many parts of the country and a tourist police force have also made top destinations safer for Americans traveling to the eastern side of the island of Hispaniola.

The Dominican Republic shares Hispaniola with Haiti, which has seen some of the most dangerous and severe living conditions in the Western hemisphere in recent years. 

Gang violence in Haiti has ramped up drastically as poverty and corruption have run unchecked following the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. 

cruise ship off coast in Dominican Republic

The Norwegian Escape cruise ship is docked at the Taino Bay Port, in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic on March 15, 2022. (Erika Santelices/afp/AFP via Getty Images)

‘LAWLESS’ HAITI PLAGUED BY CORRUPTION AND DEADLY GANG VIOLENCE FUELS HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

But while the State Department has issued a stark level four-red flag “Do not travel” advisory for Haiti, the Dominican Republic shares the same threat level alert as other top tourist destinations like France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K., and the Bahamas. 

Fox News Digital could not immediately reach the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Tourism for comment, though the State Department issued its own suggestions for safe travel on the eastern part of Hispaniola. 

Tourists walk on beach

Tourists walk along Bibijagua Beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, on May 20, 2023. (Felix Leon/AFP via Getty Images)

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If Americans do decide to hit the top Caribbean destination in the coming months, department officials have advised them to be aware of their surroundings and to not display signs of wealth by wearing expensive jewelry or watches. 

The department also warned against physically resisting any robbery attempts and to follow local safety guidelines.  

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