Dominican Republic's tourism minister says there's 'nothing to hide' about recent deaths

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The State Department has a standing travel advisory for the Dominican Republic, urging travelers to use caution because of crime, but it has not issued a travel alert specific to the traveler deaths.

Some airlines responded to growing concerns from customers about travel to the Caribbean island after at least 11 American tourists died in the past year.

ForwardKeys, which analyzes flight data, said that from June 1 to June 17, flight cancellations increased by 45 percent, according to The Washington Post. He recently sold a pizzeria he co-owned with his brother for more than a decade in Glen Cove, and chose to vacation on the island, News12 Long Island reported.

Fox News reported that Vittorio Caruso, a pizzeria owner on Long Island, died of respiratory failure during a visit to the island last week.

Another American has died while on vacation in the Dominican Republican, according to CNN. Then they received another call informing them that he had died.

Garcia said that five autopsies had been completed and that three further deaths were undergoing toxicological analysis with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Caruso isn't the only local on the list of Americans who died while on vacation in the country.

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Vittorio Caruso, 56, is the 11th American to die there over the previous year, a State Department spokesperson confirmed.

"The Dominican Republic is a safe country", Francisco Javier Garcia, the minister of tourism in the Dominican Republic, said.

"People die all over the world", he said.

American tourists are beginning to consider different travel destinations after a wave of fatalities in the Dominican Republic. Two died at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana. It says alcoholic beverages will still be available around the clock.

But officials in the Dominican Republic and the United States have not said the deaths are connected.

Customer care assistance manager Penelope Polanco told NPR the decisions are unrelated to the series of reported deaths, but are an effort to ensure the "tranquility" of their guests.

"We want the truth to prevail", García said. "If this is something that'll help them to feel more comfortable then we'll do it".

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