(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) -- Recent deaths of Americans in the Dominican Republic is making it difficult for an area Rotary district to recruit members for a group study exchange to the island nation.
Rotary is planning on sending 4-5 professionals to the Dominican Republic next January for a four-week trip.
However, with the trip now just six months away, there are still some team slots to fill. Rotary leadership say they are taking the utmost precautions for the safety of their representatives.
"Dominica is a beautiful country. I've been there myself 3 or 4 times. It is a wonderful place," said Rolfe McCoy, Rotary District 6040 GSE travel chair. "People are wonderful. It was safe and I know the Rotarians of the Dominican Repubic will definitely take care of our team."
Other than some out-of-pocket costs the Rotary trip to the Dominican Republic is nearly all-expenses paid. Participants do not need to be a member of a Rotary club to travel. McCoy says they just need to be ready for an amazing experience,
The previous several trips has seen professional exchanges with Argentina, Chile and Australia. Without fail, McCoy says they've been positive experiences for the participants.
"It changes their lives to experience another part of the world, another culture and the people of Rotary are just tremendous," he said.
Despite the deaths of at least 10 Americans in the Dominican Republic so far in 2019, an area travel agent says bookings to there are second, only behind Mexico. Last year, the Dominican Republic saw more than seven million tourists.
"They said it's probably the safest time now to go to the Dominican Republic," said Chad Cotter of Cotter Travel. "They're under such a spotlight. All the "I's" are getting dotted and all the "T's" are getting crossed. It's probably the safest time to travel down there."
Cotter says the Dominican Republic offers natural beauty.
"It's great beaches, all-inclusive resorts, great prices," he said.
Rotarians hoping the cultural, humanitarian and vocational objectives of the trip to the Dominican Republic will be a draw that people will want to be a part of.
"The experience is beyond belief. If you ever speak to any other Group Study Exchange members, they will tell you it changes their lives," McCoy said.
For more information on the Rotary District 6040 trip to the Dominican Republic, call McCoy at (660) 752-3900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.