News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Oct. 11, 2017: Several representatives of Caribbean islands impacted by both Hurricanes Irma and Maria were at the 2017 State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC), conference in Grenada and gave an update on their current status. Here’s where they stand:
Rolando Brison, the director of tourism for Dutch Sint Maarten, who joined remotely, said his country lost at least 70 per cent of the hotel inventory, leaving much work to be done to restore the tourism industry there. He, however, announced that the Princess Juliana International Airport resumed operations on October 10th and that a Royal Caribbean cruise line is return to the destination in November, 2017, when the cruise port reopens for cruise arrivals.
Valarie Damaseau, president of the St. Martin Tourist Office, in French St. Martin, who also addressed the media via Google Hangout, saidroads and beaches had been cleared and cleaned; grocery stores and petrol stations are well provisioned; many bars and restaurants have reopened; electricity has been restored to 88 percent of the households and a full recovery, including restoration of water and telecommunications, is expected by the end of October 2017.
Cardigan Connor, Anguilla’s parliamentary secretary with responsibility for tourism, sports and culture, said cleanup across the island was progressing well. Basic utility services are being restored, the airport in Anguilla has reopened, with restored access to the Princess Juliana Airport on neighboring St. Maarten, as of October 10, 2017, and many hotel properties were planning to reopen for Christmas.
British Virgin Islands
Sharon Flax-Brutus, director of tourism for the British Virgin Islands (BVI), said progress was being made in restoring communication, basic utilities and airport services. Flax-Brutus said most luxury properties may take up to two years to complete refurbishment, properties like the Nanny Cay – a top resort and marina – will be the first to reopen to guests, with other smaller hotels and places of accommodation soon to follow.
The BVI will not be open for business during the month of October 2017, during which time assessments will be completed; yachts repaired; accommodations, beaches and tourist attractions restored and the integrity of access ports repaired. Like Anguilla, available room stock is currently being utilized by hurricane relief workers. The BVI will begin to welcome guests to the islands on November 1, 2017.
Devon Liburd, the director of tourism for Nevis, said the island escaped the worse of the storms and was open for business. He also indicated that St. Kitts and Nevis had contributed US$1.5 million to some of the affected countries.