Former President Bill Clinton vacations in Dominican Republic as country tries to move past spate of tourist deaths

Former President Bill Clinton arrived in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday to vacation and spend time with friends, as the Caribbean nation grapples with the ongoing fallout from several recent tourist deaths and attacks on travelers.

Clinton was seen arriving at the Tortuga Bay hotel in Punta Cana and playing golf, according to the Tourism Ministry.  José Tomás Pérez, the Dominican ambassador to the United States, greeted him by way of an enthusiastic tweet.

"Welcome Bill Clinton to the Dominican Republic. His presence is the best message to Americans and the world about the safety and quality of our tourism," he tweeted.

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The Clintons, including former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the couple's daughter, Chelsea, have been regular guests in the country for several years, the ministry said in a news release.

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“President Clinton is in the Dominican Republic spending time with friends. As I’m sure you’re aware, he’s been visiting the country for decades," Clinton spokesman Angel Urena told Fox News.

Former President Bill Clinton is spending time with friends in the Dominican Republic. 

Former President Bill Clinton is spending time with friends in the Dominican Republic.  (Dominican Republic Tourism Ministry )

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In recent years, the Clintons have spent time there for the New Year's and Easter holidays. Dominican officials are desperately trying to rehabilitate the country's image after several tourists died under mysterious circumstances while at luxury resorts.

The State Department this week confirmed a 31-year-old Georgia man died from a "respiratory illness" in March.

He was the 11th American to die in the country this year and the 14th since June 2018. Several relatives of Americans who've died in the country have raised doubts about the accounts Dominican officials have given of the deaths.

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Authorities maintain the tourists all died of natural causes.

The tourism ministry has rolled out new efforts to keep travelers safe, including conducting more hotel room inspections and opening an emergency tourist shelter.