More than 75% of hotels across the Caribbean are operational and the vast majority of the region remains unaffected by the devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria.
That’s the message from the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, which has embarked on an awareness drive following high profile media coverage of the storm damage and some misperceptions that the entire region has been affected by the recent hurricanes.
For the first time the CHTA has produced a detailed information website, caribbeantravelupdate.com, for consumers and the travel trade alike to see which destinations and properties have been affected by an unprecedented season of hurricane activity.
The site splits destinations into two sections, ‘open for business’ and ‘on the road to recovery’. Those listed as now open for business include Antigua, Barbados, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts, Nevis, and St Lucia, while affected islands include the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Barbuda, Puerto Rico and St Martin.
Chief executive Frank Comito said: “70% of the Caribbean is open for business. The worst thing that people can do in terms of helping the Caribbean is to cancel their bookings.”
But he admitted the region had not seen devastation on this scale before. “We have never had something of this magnitude affect the region. Typically a hurricane affects one of two destinations; this time 12 out of 32 have been affected. This is a challenge for us as a region and it will take some time to clean up the worst-hit destinations.”
Comito warned that even a 10% drop in visitor numbers to the Caribbean would have a severe impact, not just for hoteliers but also on employment levels and the general economy because of the region’s dependence on tourism.
The CHTA represents the tourist industry across the Caribbean as an umbrella organisation for 32 hotel and tourism organisations and has 600 hotels as direct members.
Across the Caribbean, tourism accounts for more than 2.3 million jobs and makes up almost 15% of gross domestic product.