The region’s hotel sector was spared the worst of Hurricane Irma during its passage through the Caribbean last week, with most hotel properties reporting business as usual.
The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has reported that while a few hoteliers across the region reported “minor damage”, all staff and guests were safe and assessments would be carried in the coming days.
A few that were closed for the season have reported a delay in reopening as a result of the strong storm.
However, the situation was one of devastation in St Martin, with at least three properties there reporting significant damage, although guests and employees were safe. Reports are that the Princess Juliana Airport suffered some damage and guests from some of the hotels on that island were evacuated ahead of the storm.
“It has been reported that St. Barth’s was heavily impacted by Hurricane Irma which destroyed government buildings and badly damaged private homes and resorts including the Eden Rock Hotel. There is flooding throughout the destination. The French government is sending people and supplies to the country to assist with recovery efforts,” the CTO said in a statement.
As for the US Virgin Islands, the CTO said “the US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism has advised that full assessment of the impact of Hurricane Irma is under way, and while St Croix is getting back to business, visitors are being encouraged not to visit St Thomas and St John”.
“To ensure everyone’s safety, the postponement of all scheduled visits to St Thomas and St John is being recommended. The storm has resulted in four casualties to date on the island of St. Thomas,” it added.
The CTO reported that the Clayton J Lloyd International Airport in Anguilla has already been cleared of debris.
The tourism organization also noted that St Kitts and Nevis sustained minimal damage overall and both St Kitts’ Robert L Bradshaw International Airport and Nevis’ Vance W Amory International Airport have reopened. So too has the Providenciales International Airport in Turks and Caicos.
The CTO said both it and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association continued to monitor the situation.
Meanwhile, the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) has expressed sadness at the devastation across the region.
“It is with sad hearts that we express our deepest concern and sympathy for our Caribbean neighbours who have been affected by hurricane Irma. We watch in horror the many photos and videos of major destruction and despair and the reports of loss of life, which have been carried on the news and posted on social media, and will continue to pray for all affected,” the BHTA said in a statement today.
“Our prayers similarly go out to the residents of Florida and other states also impacted by Hurricane Irma and those in Mexico hit by a massive earthquake and Hurricane Katia,” it added.
The BHTA said the situation should not be taken lightly, as it urged all affected to “continue to take all the necessary precautions and to stay as safe as possible”.
“[We] pledge our support in the rebuilding process of our neighbours,” it added.