You'll notice we aren't using a photo for this story. That's because there's not much good to see. Hurricane Irma is possibly the most destructive natural event ever to strike certain parts of the Caribbean.
What about Travel?
Information is trickling in, but here's the best available information we have today from 3rd party sources about the situation:
- Tourists are barred indefinitely from the Florida Keys although they have begun to let residents back in.
- South Florida's airports are operating although they are working back up to full service.
- Cruises from Port Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale and Miami are resuming this week – but most with modified and/ or abbreviated itineraries.
- The islands worst hit include Barbuda (where the entire island's population has now been evacuated to sister Antigua), St. Maarten/ St. Martin, parts of Cuba, St. Thomas, Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, St. Barth's, and the damage in some is overwhelming.St. Maarten and St. Thomas in particular are among the most popular cruise ports in the Eastern Caribbean.It's unknown at this point when any cruise or other tourists may be able to visit.
- Some cruise lines are canceling Eastern Caribbean itineraries and changing them to Western – or even Southern Caribbean – itineraries for the next few weeks.
Already, though, there is some good news we want to share, as rays of hope during this terrible time:
- We have been so heartened by how many cruise lines – in astonishing feats of logistics – quickly re-routed and dedicated ships to transporting people away from danger and hazardous conditions and bringing vital supplies and assistance to communities affected.
- Similarly, airlines and charter companies made heroic evacuations before the hurricane made landfall, and some have returned with assistance where they can land.
- We are even starting to see 'assistance tourism' – people choosing to take their holidays in devastated areas to contribute to local economies and help clean up and get communities back to functioning.
- And even in affected areas, not all hotels, resorts and activities have been destroyed.Some are still functioning or will be soon.
Just a few examples:
- Our friends at St. Maarten's 12- metre Challenge racing yacht experience report they'll be back in business by December.The heavily damaged airport has restored enough service to land flights with needed supplies and assistance.
- So, too, Sandals says its Beaches Turks and Caicos property will be restored and 'better than ever' before Christmas.For booked travelers, they offer to"re-accommodate your stay at one of our Beaches Resorts located in Jamaica or to any available Sandals Resort, or reschedule your travel dates for Beaches Turks & Caicos"
- St. Barth's airport re-opened Thursday morning.
What Can You Do?
The affected areas are facing estimated lost tourism revenues this year in the billions. And in the worst-affected locations where tourism is the largest or only industry, almost all jobs are gone indefinitely until tourists return.
Our hearts go out to everyone affected by Hurricane Irma. And we hope you join us in supporting recovery efforts.
One of the best ways to support recovery in the region is to continue to travel. High season from December to March is vital for the economies of tourism-dependent Caribbean countries.
If you have booked travel plans, check with us or the travel supplier to see if you can complete those plans. The Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association are other excellent sources of information.
And if you are thinking of a sun or beach vacation, let us help you book a trip to the Caribbean. There are many places unaffected or that will be ready by December to provide you with a memorable holiday that also helps economies recover from Hurricane Irma.