Dominican Republic Bounces Back in a Big Way This Holiday Season

Travel to the Dominican Republic has rebounded in a big way, with Punta Cana topping long-time favorite Cancun for Thanksgiving trips, according to a new survey by Allianz Global Assistance.

The number of Americans traveling internationally to the Dominican Republic for Thanksgiving has nearly quadrupled in size since last year, the Allianz Top 10 Thanksgiving Destination Index found.

It’s a stunning turnaround for a destination beleaguered by sensationalized reports of tourist deaths.

“It really is a dramatic turnaround for the Dominican Republic’s fortunes,” said Daniel Durazo, director of marketing and communications for Allianz Global Assistance USA. “I think the story about the mysterious deaths has played out. People are past it, there haven’t been any additional ones, and people understand there wasn’t anything going on that was sinister.”

Discounted prices for air and resorts also helped.

“It’s a terrific destination—the prices are great and people are flooding back,” Durazo said in an interview with TravelPulse. “Our survey shows people are going to come back in droves, and it’s really great to see.”

Allianz Global Assistance reviewed Americans’ travel plans around Thanksgiving, with outbound travel scheduled between Saturday, Nov. 23, and Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 28. Since the survey began in 2015, Cancun dominated as the number-one international destination for Thanksgiving travelers. While the Mexican hotspot remains on this year’s international list, the destination has been dethroned by Punta Cana, which climbed seven positions to the top of the international index.

Allianz analyzed the number of customers that went through the online booking process for airfare and packages for partners offering Allianz Global Assistance travel insurance. In total, 2.4 million itineraries were analyzed using this methodology.

The return of Americans to the Dominican Republic comes at a critical time for the country’s tourism industry, a vital sector for the local economy. The island nation, which suffered a decline in tourism numbers earlier this year due to swirling suspicion over a string of vacationer deaths, was recently buoyed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation toxicology report findings that the deaths were unrelated and resulted from natural causes. The Dominican Republic boasts the largest economy in the Caribbean, drawing visitors from around the world to experience its rich culture and beautiful beaches.

The other Top 10 international destinations in order of popularity are London, Paris, San Juan, San Jose Del Cabo, Nassau, Puerto Vallarta, Montego Bay and Mexico City. For the fifth consecutive year, New York City is the preferred domestic Thanksgiving destination among American travelers, followed by Atlanta, Orlando, Los Angeles, Boston, Dallas, Seattle, Detroit, Chicago and Phoenix. Chicago rejoins the list this year, knocking out Minneapolis as a top 10 destination.

“No matter where you’re headed this Thanksgiving, it is incredibly important to purchase trip protection when you book your travel. It will certainly provide peace of mind, especially throughout this busy travel period,” Durazo said.

According to the Allianz survey, the day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday, Nov. 27) remains the busiest departure day for domestic destinations, with travelers most commonly taking four-day-long trips. International travelers are getting a head start on their Thanksgiving travel, with the most popular departure date being Saturday, Nov. 23.

Allianz Global Assistance offers travel insurance through most major U.S. airlines, leading travel agents, online travel agencies and directly to consumers. For more information on Allianz Global Assistance and the policies offered for travelers, visit allianztravelinsurance.com.