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Letter to Parents and Spouses from Tours Trips Treks & Travel regarding smart and safe travel

Winter 2017 / Spring 2018

Several times each year, I am asked by concerned parents or spouses, "Is the DR safe?" I always have to stop and think about that for a moment. As the place that I have been calling home for the last 23 years, the DR is where I feel comfortable and safe. I have to remind myself that while considering Upstate NY home several years ago, my perspective of the DR was quite different. Comfort and safety are concepts that are always spoken of in reference to one's home, and it is natural to have concerns, questions and excitement regarding the unknown. I have come to understand that those who pose that question really mean "What are you doing to insure the safety of my loved ones in your programs?"

Recent world events have created a great deal of anxiety in North America and around the world regarding safety. US State Department's Worldwide Cautions and Public Announcements (available at www.travel.state.gov) and Center for Disease Control and Preventions Travelers' Health Information (www.cdc.gov) bring up some appropriate concerns for traveling abroad. While these should be taken seriously, it is useful to realize that cautions and concerns are not a recent phenomenon. Nor have they prevented thousands of students and community service volunteers from safely traveling and bettering themselves as global citizens. Consider for a moment the vast amount of cautionary information available to foreigners regarding the country you call home.

The safety of our program participants has always been of paramount importance to us and our sponsoring organizations in the development of educational, adventure and community service tours throughout the Dominican Republic. At www.4tdomrep.com/rm-responsibilities.html we share some of the safety focused policies and procedures which we have integrated into our activities at Tours Trips Treks & Travel. It is important to realize that safety on 4T programs is a shared responsibility. Accordingly, you will find that some of the safety information deals with what we expect of our well-informed, active program participants and of their families. A brief review of some of our testimonials (www.4tdomrep.com/testimonials.html) reveals that not only is providing safe learning experiences for our guests a top priority, but helping them feel safe is also a primary concern.

The Dominican Republic is a truly special place. It is a place not only of physical beauty with its 1,228 kilometers of curving coastline and 5 lush mountain ranges, but of a beauty based in humanity. Dominicans are openly gregarious, easy with a smile, firm with a handshake, and ready to dance at even the slightest notion. Family comes before the individual. Curiosity is encouraged. Debate is held in high regard. Pride is unfaltering. The magical synergies of this nation's proximity to the United States, self-sustainability, geography, and, of course, Latin-Caribbean rhythms have allowed it to continue its track of development and advancement while maintaining a "small town" feel. This is a place where casual acquaintances take off from work to show your visiting parents around town. Still, this is a developing nation and a culture with both similarities and differences to that of North America. Information relating to the practicalities of daily life on tour in the DR can be found in the Pre-Departure section of our website (www.4tdomrep.com/info-predeparture.html). Please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions page for concerns and curiosities not addressed in the pre-departure information. (www.4tdomrep.com/info-faq.html).

We sincerely hope that the information contained within this letter and the referenced website links have addressed your concerns as a parent or spouse of a participant on a 4T program. We look forward to hosting your child or spouse in the Dominican Republic through his or her sponsoring organization. Although it may make more sense to classify 4T in the tourism industry, we have always held ourselves to the higher, accountability-oriented standards of the international study-abroad industry regardless of the nature of our guests' sponsoring organizations. Many of 4T's recommendations, policies and procedures have been adapted from publications and workshops by the Association of International Educators (NAFSA) and Wilderness Medical Associates.

4T strives to be an innovator, not just in the development of enriching and exciting programs in the DR, but in the standards of care we hold dear regarding our guests, employees, and local communities. We encourage your challenging and important questions as they help us to build stronger, safer and more rewarding opportunities for our future guests.

Sincere thanks,

Richard Weber
Tours Trips Treks & Travel

Tours Trips Treks & Travel
Customized Educatioanl, Adventure & Service Programs
Tel. (809)867-8884
Fax. (206)600-1700
Tours Trips Treks & Travel operates under the license
Aguatours Dominicana S.A. in the DR.

Tours Trips Treks & Travel copyright © 2016
Most photos credited to "Open Shirt' Mike Gussak at unkmonk@hotmail.com