BRITS have been warned about visiting top holiday destination the Dominican Republic, after a terrifying spate of robberies and sexual attacks.
Thousands of Brits will be jetting off to the idyllic island on half-term holidays over the next few weeks – unaware of the potential dangers.
The long haul getaway is in the grip of a crime wave, with tourists being violently attacked and mugged, according to latest reports.
Reality TV cameraman Alper Baycin – who worked on the Turkish version of Survivor – was stabbed to death for his bag last year while on the island.
And in 2017, several Canadian women alleged they were sexually assaulted while staying at beach resorts there.
The surge has prompted the US State department to issue a travel advisory warning holidaymakers to exercise “increased caution” due to high crime rates.
The Foreign Office is also advising UK tourists to be on alert after a spate of violent car robberies near the main international airport Las Americas in the capital Santa Domingo.
It has warned visitors of gun-toting muggers operating during daylight hours in the capital, with its website chillingly advising victims “don’t resist” if attacked.
IDENTITY THEFT “RIFE”
The department recommends, too, that people should avoid carrying smart phones or cameras in the street and to take “extra care” when using ATMs as card cloning and identity theft is rife on the island.
Nick Harris, head of travel at UK-based Simpson Millar solicitors, said that people needed to be aware that despite the Dominican Republic being touted as a luxury getaway, crimes committed against tourists have surged.
Mr Harris said: “Criminals often prey on people letting their hair down while abroad and unfortunately that is exactly what is happening over there.
“Behind the glitz and glam of the brochure can often lie a different world.
“This is a developing country with all the associated problems with poverty and rich Brits make easy pickings as with all their gadgets, they are like a walking cash point.
“There are lots of dangers and violence seems to be commonplace, so people need to be more wary.
“Tourists are being targeted in a campaign of violent muggings outside hotels and car robberies and even sexual assaults in resorts.”
Mr Harris added that people needed to “have their eyes open to the dangers so they can protect themselves. Just because something looks great in pictures doesn’t mean it will be the same in reality.”
The Caribbean island – off the coast of central America – is being touted as a “safe” family destination by tour operators as tourists shun traditional European destinations such as France for fear of terrorism.
Latest figures revealed the Dominican Republic has become a big hit with Brits, as nearly 180,000 visited it in 2017.
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But, Mr Harris warned: “That perfect family holiday could soon turn into a holiday from hell.
“Before you travel, always check with your tour operator who have a duty to make sure you are properly informed about any health and safety issues in your resort.
“If you do get in trouble, contact the nearest Embassy and report any crime to police in the country otherwise it cannot be investigated.”
Travel advice for the Dominican Republic
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) says that while the Dominican Republic is “friendly and welcoming, it has a high crime rate”.
This ranges from “opportunistic crime like bag-snatching and pick-pocketing, to violent crime.
“There have been a number of incidents in Santo Domingo where foreigners have been mugged at gunpoint during the daytime while walking in residential districts.
“Take particular care in remote areas, especially at night.
“Don’t wear expensive jewellery or carry large amounts of cash or expensive items like smart phones or cameras in the street.
“If you’re attacked or mugged, don’t resist.”
The FCO adds: “Incidents of assault, rape and sexual aggression against foreigners have occurred, including at beach resorts.
“In some cases, hotel employees or fellow guests have been implicated.
“Be wary of rides or other invitations; avoid walking alone at night and don’t leave drinks unattended.”
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