The shooting of retired baseball superstar David Ortiz Sunday night in his native Dominican Republic was only the latest in a series of high profile security incidents, including the deaths of six American tourists in the past year. Now, DR officials are desperate to save the country’s lucrative tourism industry — an industry which accounts for 8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to Dominican Today — amid fears that the security situation in the Caribbean country of about 11 million people has left it too dangerous to visit.
By contrast, the tourism industry accounts for 2.8 percent of GDP in the United States, according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Select USA program.
Ortiz was shot in the back in what has been characterized as a targeted attack on June 9, as he sat at an outdoor bar in Santo Domingo, the DR capital city. He suffered damage to his intestines, liver, and gall bladder but is expected to recover, as The Inquisitr reported.
But on the same day, the United States State Department revealed that an American tourist, named by Fox News as 67-year-old California resident Robert Bell Wallace, had died in the Dominican Republic.
According to a count by Forbes, Wallace was the sixth American to die under mysterious circumstances in the DR since June 23 of last year.
Wallace reportedly died after falling seriously ill right after taking a drink from a hotel mini-bar at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana, DR, according to The Washington Post. His death came just a few weeks after 41-year-old Pennsylvania woman Miranda Schaup-Werner also died under similar circumstances, falling ill after consuming a beverage from a mini-bar at a Bahia Principe Bouganville in La Romana, about 70 miles west of Punta Cana.
At the same Bahia Principe resort, just five days after Schaup-Werner died, a Maryland couple — Nathaniel Edward Holmes and Cynthia Ann Day — were found dead in their hotel room there while vacationing to mark their wedding anniversary. The cause of death for both Holmes and Day was listed as “respiratory failure,” according to an NBC News report.
DR Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia has called the deaths isolated incidents, according to a Fox 5 DC report.
The U.S. State Department places the Dominican Republic — which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Haiti, about 800 miles from Miami — under a Level 2 Travel Advisory, meaning that visitors should “exercise increased caution due to crime.”
“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,” the State Department advisory says.
The government of the Dominican Republic is rated as one of the world’s most corrupt, according to Transparency International. Of 180 countries rated, with No. 1 (Denmark) being the least corrupt, and 180 (Somalia) being the most corrupt, the DR is ranked 129.