Caribbean ‘needs tourists’ to re­turn af­ter Irma

The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - TRAVEL NEWS -

Re­build­ing the hur­ri­cane-hit is­lands will take time but visi­tors should not be de­terred, says Hugh Mor­ris

The devastation wrought by Hur­ri­cane Irma across the Caribbean will not dampen the re­solve of tourism of­fi­cials for the re­gion to re­main one of the world’s most pop­u­lar hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions. Though some is­lands, no­tably the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands, Bar­buda and St Martin, suf­fered ex­ten­sive dam­age from one of the strong­est storms to hit the re­gion in a decade, the Caribbean tourist board said fewer than 10 per cent of ho­tels and re­sorts are set to be closed for longer than a week.

“The best way to help us re­build is to con­tinue with your hol­i­day plans, keep mak­ing your hol­i­day plans,” said Colin James, the CEO of the tourist board of An­tigua and Bar­buda. The lat­ter was re­duced to “rub­ble” by Irma, which dam­aged 90 per cent of the is­land’s build­ings.

“We are work­ing very hard to help Bar­buda, but it will take a year for re­pairs to be fully com­pleted.”

James said An­tigua, Bar­buda’s larger and bet­ter-known sib­ling 40 miles south, was “largely un­scathed”. “If you came to An­tigua now you would not be able to tell it had been hit a hur­ri­cane,” he said.

In an ef­fort to spread the mes­sage that the Caribbean, vis­ited by about a mil­lion Bri­tish hol­i­day­mak­ers each year, is open for busi­ness, its re­gional tourism or­gan­i­sa­tion (the CTO) has been is­su­ing reg­u­lar up­dates as to the progress of the is­lands’ re­cov­ery.

Rachel O’Reilly, the head of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at lux­ury op­er­a­tor Kuoni, said the im­pact var­ied from is­land to is­land but that some had es­caped dam­age, in­clud­ing St Lu­cia, Bar­ba­dos and Ja­maica. She said some guests whose hol­i­days had been dis­rupted by Irma had been re­lo­cated to one of these. The ma­jor­ity of ho­tels on An­tigua are wel­com­ing guests again, while the CTO said though Bar­buda’s 100

HOW THE IS­LANDS ARE AF­FECTED

An­tigua was ‘largely un­scathed’ and the ma­jor­ity of ho­tels are wel­com­ing guests

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