*Steve Harvey’s third-annual Sand and Soul Festival is taking place at a Dominican Republic resort where at least 2 U.S. tourists have died in the last year.
The event will be held from October 10 to October 14 at the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana.
As reported by Business Insider, David Harrison, 45, of Maryland died after falling ill while he was vacationing at resort last July. In April, Robert Bell Wallace, 67, of California, died at the same resort. His relatives told Fox News he had fallen ill after having a drink from his hotel room minibar.
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Harvey’s festival is still moving forward, and the all-star celebrity line up reportedly includes Ginuwine, Doug E. Fresh, LisaRaye, and Anthony Hamilton. It’s unclear if refunds will be issued to folks who no longer want to travel to the country.
Since last June, at least nine US tourists have died while staying at resorts in the D.R. Authorities believe tainted bootleg liquor is behind the deaths, SandraRose reports:
Officials believe the victims died after consuming alcohol mixed with methanol, a tasteless, odorless methyl alcohol that is found in antifreeze and windshield washer fluid.
Victims who fell ill after consuming drinks from the minibars in their rooms described symptoms similar to methanol poisoning – disorientation, confusion, headache, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and a specific odor on the breath.
The U.S. State Department issued travel advisories warning Americans to avoid consuming mixed drinks or cocktails from the hotel bars in developing countries.
“We can assure you, the safety and health of our guests is now, and has always been our highest priority. We currently implement beverage protocols, including purchasing sealed and unopened products from licensed and reputable vendors, as well as daily inspections of all products served throughout the hotel bars and in-room liquor dispensers. Additionally, our team members are trained to inspect all supplies, equipment and products that enter the property. Of course, we will continue to evaluate and recalibrate our protocols to strengthen and enhance guest safety,” the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino said in a statement provided to INSIDER by the Steve Harvey festival team.
Dominican Republic’s tourism minister, Francisco Javier Garcia, told CNN that all of the deaths are isolated incidents.
“Investigation into them is a top priority for us and for the National Police. We are asking them to deploy all resources to help provide answers as quickly as possible,” he said.