In the past couple of weeks the US and the Caribbean have faced some of the worst storms in recent years.
We’ve written about the cost of cleaning up and repairing states in the US after the hurricanes, but how has it affected the tourism industry in Caribbean islands?
The Caribbean, particularly Antigua & Barbuda and the British Virgin Islands, are well known for their luxury resorts and hotels.
Sean Hyett, an associate analyst in travel and tourism at GlobalData, told Verdict:
Tourism in the entire Caribbean region is likely to be impacted by the Hurricanes. Puerto Rico has been severely affected and hence few tourists are likely to visit the country if they were planning on going for a leisure holiday. Expect numbers to fall sharply for the rest of 2017 and most of 2018 as the country recovers. Additionally, tourists may be put off visiting the region in monsoon season in the years to come, as weather is increasingly unpredictable.
How much effect has Hurricanes Irma and Maria had on these businesses?
Antigua and Barbuda
The prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, told Time that it could cost around $250m to $300m to repair the islands after Hurricane Irma.
The extent of the damage is beyond the means of these islands … Global human cooperation is an absolute necessity.
The popular adult-only resort brand Sandals has a few resorts throughout the Caribbean. It actually shut its Grande resort at the start of September for three months, in order to carry out maintenance work so it is unlikely that it will lose any money after the hurricanes.
The hotel has reportedly sustained no damage.
However, other hotels on the islands may not be so lucky. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism contributes about $800m a year to the islands’ GDP. As well, the industry provides around 19,700 jobs to Antigua & Barbuda’s residents.
These figures are likely to fall in the aftermath of the storms.
British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands has been severely hit by the recent storms. According to the CIA, tourism brings in 45 percent of the national income for the British Virgin Islands (BIV). In 2016, tourism contributed $900m to the islands’ GDP.
The Peter Island Resort & Spa, where prices for rooms start from $500 up to $9,000 a night, said Hurricane Irma had had a “devastating impact” on the resort.
In addition, hotels such as Peter Island launched crowdfunding campaigns for their staff affected.
The hotel said:
Over 200 individuals on the Peter Island staff and their families are experiencing the unfortunate after-effects of this hurricane, including having limited supplies, and lacking the kinds of facilities and services we typically take for granted in our day-to-day lives.
So far, over $100,000 has been raised of a $250,000 fundraising goal.
Since opening up its borders, Cuba is one of the most popular islands to visit in the Caribbean.
In 2017, it was predicted that inbound expenditure in the country would reach around $35.1bn, helped by the 42.4m people that visit the island every year, according to data by GlobalData.
According to Thomas Cook, the northern coast of Cuba was badly affected by Irma, which will affect the annual income the country receives from tourism.
Before Hurricane Maria, Jose Izquerido, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, said the island had largely escaped from Irma’s wrath.
We’ve been open for business on the tourism front for a while post-Irma, and feel very confident we have the right preparedness plans in place [to recover quickly from Hurricane Maria].
However, that doesn’t look like the case right now.
The US territory has been almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Maria this week. The island has been hit with 155mph winds, widespread flooding, and the entire power system has been knocked out for the island’s 1.5m population.
Widespread flooding has affected the island too, in what has been called “total devastation” by Puerto Rico’s governor’s spokesman.
Around 38.4m people visit Puerto Rico every year, according to forecasts by GlobalData. This brings in $39.3bn in expenditure for the territory.
It will take years to rebuild the territory; in part due to the fact it filed for bankruptcy-like protection earlier this year to restructure its mountain of debts.
Combined with the falling income coming from tourism, Puerto Rico will continue to suffer from Hurricane Maria long after this week.