About 17,000 Russians and Ukrainians stuck in Dominican Republic

Travel restrictions due to war in Eastern Europe trapping people in Caribbean country

View of Las Americas International Airport in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Reuters
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About 15,000 Russian and 2,000 Ukrainian tourists are stuck in the Dominican Republic due to travel restrictions imposed after Moscow's invasion of its neighbour, the government in Santo Domingo said on Wednesday.

The Caribbean country said it had reached a deal with hotel chains to “guarantee” the tourists' accommodation “until such time as a solution is found “.

Hotels in the Dominican Republic, a country renowned for its beautiful beaches, welcomed five million guests in 2021.

The 14,800 Russian tourists are mainly in the eastern province of La Altagracia, home to visitor hotspot Punta Cana.

An official survey also found about 1,900 Ukrainian visitors, who will remain in their hotels until a repatriation plan is in place.

Ukraine's honorary consul to the Dominican Republic, Ilona Oleksandrivna, has claimed there were about 3,000 of her countrymen and women in the country, of whom 1,200 had been kicked out of their hotels.

The consul met on Wednesday evening with Dominican President Luis Abinader.

“The Dominican government pledged not to pressure any Ukrainian citizen to leave their hotel for lack of resources,” Anibal Felix, an adviser to Ms Oleksandrivna, told reporters afterward.

“That was a commitment from the president and he was vehement in that decision.”

A statement from the office of Tourism Minister David Collado said officials would visit hotels in the coming days to determine the needs of families who cannot return home.

The EU, UK and Canada closed their airspace to Russian planes in response to the invasion and Russia in turn banned airlines from those same countries from flying over its territory.

Russian airline Aeroflot on Monday suspended the sale of tickets to Cuba, Mexico and the US while Azur Air halted flights to Cuba, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, Prensa Latina reported.

The Dominican Republic, one of the rare countries never to have closed its borders during the coronavirus pandemic, received 183,700 Russian tourists and 85,912 Ukrainians in 2021, the country's central bank said.

Updated: March 03, 2022, 6:49 PM