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Minister of Tourism: St. Lucia on the Road to Recovery, Safe for TravelNovember 19, 2010 By: Joe Pike
Travel Agent chatted with St. Lucia’s Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Sen. Allen Chastanet, Thursday afternoon and learned that the island’s tourism infrastructure is ready to again accommodate travelers following the devastation left behind by Hurricane Tomas.
“It could’ve been a lot worse, but that doesn’t mean it still wasn’t really, really bad,” Chastanet told Travel Agent during a phone interview, referring to the hurricane that pummeled the islands of St. Lucia, Haiti, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and others more than a week ago. “We just didn’t waste any time cleaning everything up or else it would be still be in really bad shape.”
Although there is still work to be done, the island has about 95 percent of its water running again following a complete shut down on the north side. Two of the island’s bridges have been temporarily fixed pending permanent restoration and both of its airports are now fully operational.
“The roads and the airports are ready for tourists again, so it’s safe to visit,” Chastanet told us. “There is still work to be done, but there is no reason to not visit at this time.”
Reports of fatalities have fluctuated with some news outlets reporting as many as 14 deaths, including one tourist who was killed trying to drive during the storm, Chastanet told us. Chastanet says about seven people are still reported missing.
As far as the industry goes, however, Chastanet says the island dodged a bullet.
“Of course, there were a few agents who reported several cancellations, but overall we were surprised by how many people chose to rebook their trips rather than cancel,” Chastanet says.
Many of St Lucia's buildings escaped without structural damage although some hotels have been affected. The last time St. Lucia was hit this hard by a storm was back in 1980 when Hurricane Allen struck.
“I think this storm was a lit worse but we were more accustomed to handling this one than we were with Allen,” Chastanet says. “So restoring most of the island didn’t take nearly as long this time as it did in 1980, although this storm was a lot worse.”