By Paige McCartney

NASSAU, Bahamas — The Bahamas’ tourism sector appears to be cashing in on the unexpected deaths of American tourists in the Dominican Republic with an increase in bookings.

At least twelve American tourists have died in the Dominican Republic in the past year, causing the tourism industry on the island nation, a pillar of that country’s economy, to spiral into a crisis.

Since the end of May, when the most recent mysterious deaths of three American tourists in the Dominican Republic occurred, vacation bookings to the island have decreased by 74.3 percent between June 1 and 19, while bookings to The Bahamas have increased by 44.5 percent during that period, according to travel data analysis company Forward Keys.

“The deaths have not only caused a slowdown in new bookings, there has also been a spike in cancellations. During the period 1st – 19th June, cancellations of U.S. bookings to the Dominican Republic, for travel at any future date, jumped by 51.2 percent. The day after Leyla Cox’s death on 11th June, cancellations exceeded 70 percent,” Forward Keys’ Vice President of Insights Olivier Ponti noted in a report sent to The Nassau Guardian.

“At the same time as bookings for the Dominican Republic were stalling, bookings for some other Caribbean islands surged. Jamaica, The Bahamas and Aruba exemplify the pattern; in the period from 1st April to 31st May, bookings were down 8.4 percent, up 7.0 percent and down 3.5 percent respectively. However, for the period 1st – 19th June, they were up 26.0 percent, 44.5 percent and 31.3 percent respectively.”

Concerns for American tourists heightened following the deaths of two more tourists during the first two weeks of June, according to Forward Keys, which triggered an initial stall in bookings.

Much like The Bahamas, the United States is the top source market for the Dominican Republic’s tourism market.

According to The New York Times, the Dominican Republic’s Tourism Minister Fernando Javier García announced earlier this week that autopsies of the three tourists that died in May found that they died of a heart attack, septic shock and pneumonia.