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Hurricane Dean Has Little Effect on TourismAugust 27, 2007 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent
Yours truly was set to travel to Belize last week but instead of enjoying rainforests, I had to settle for the less tropical scenery of my Manhattan cubicle.
The affected regions could have experienced the same devastation that Hurricane Wilma or Hurricane Ivan brought to tourism but the Caribbean's tourism infrastructure squeaked by virtually unscathed. Here's a recap for those who weren't glued to the National Weather Service reports like myself.
At press time, Hurricane Dean, the most intense tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin since 2005's Hurricane Wilma, had claimed at least 14 lives and caused about $1.5 to $3 billion in damages. However, most Caribbean islands reported that there was no significant structural damage to any major resort and that all airports were opened just a few days after Dean's arrival. Travel as of the end of last week resumed as normal to most Caribbean destinations. For a complete list of Caribbean property assessments, visit www.travelagentcentral.com/hurricanedean.
Report From Tour Operators
Travel Agent learned that many
operators sending clients to the
reported Hurricane Dean had very little—if any—impact on business since the
storm first struck last week. According to operators we spoke with, many
clients changed their vacations as soon as the hurricane warnings were issued,
most rebooking for different dates.
Some still decided to fly, and the ones who cancelled will
most likely book through the same operator when they do decide to commit to
another date, says John Hanratty, chief marketing officer for Travel Impressions.
Travel Impressions had about 2,000 clients whose
those, one-third rebooked immediately. The remainder were either already in the
rebooked another trip when they got back, and the others canceled, but are
expected to rebook.
Vacations' charter flights from
various gateways were took off for Cancun International Airport on Wednesday
morning after an original planned Tuesday take-off, and a full flight schedule
resumed on Thursday. "We didn't really see much of an effect at all,"
Apple Vacations' Senior Vice President Tim Mullen told Travel Agent. "Many
of the big destinations we send clients to were able to escape with little
damage. So everything is back to normal."
The Case of Martinique
The tourism-related infrastructure of Martinique received no
major damage, but the storm did do massive damage to the economy, wiping out
the island's entire banana crop, Muriel Wiltord, director USA and Latin America
for the Martinique Promotion Bureau/CMT USA, told Travel Agent last week.
She says the island's key tourism players had an emergency
meeting to discuss marketing strategies to significantly increase the number of
visitors for next year, since tourism and bananas are the island's two main
sources of income. "There's certainly more pressure for us to increase
tourism because we have to make up some of the money we lost with the bananas,'
Wiltord told us, noting the crops take nine months to harvest.
Also, many of
rich greenery, such as its tropical gardens and forests, were damaged.