LONDON,UK (6 Nov., 2017) – As member countries of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) affected by the recent hurricanes Irma and Maria reopen for business, the CTO presents this update, which includes data provided by our partner, OAG, the leading air travel data provider based in the UK, the state of readiness in the member countries and planned events in the coming months, as provided by the member destinations.
The CTO Relief Fund (a 501 c3) helps families and countries rebuild after hurricanes, with monies raised being sent directly to CTO-member destinations affected by the hurricanes. To make a donation, visit www.gofundme.com/hurricane-relief-fund-cto.
Donations through CHTA’s Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund can be made via http://www.tourismcares.org/caribbean.
The Impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria (and Harvey) on Airlines Servicing the Caribbean
Impact on Caribbean Aviation
Data based on schedules that were provided to OAG by the airlines showed that in October the overall frequency (flights) contracted by 6.7 per cent and seat capacity by 4.1 per cent.
Seven out the top ten destinations in terms of frequency recorded decreases ranging between 1.6 per cent in the Dominican Republic and 25.1 per cent in Puerto Rico. Among the worst hit destinations, the frequency of flights to Puerto Rico decreased by 25.1 per cent, Dominica by 13.7 per cent, St. Maarten by 12 per cent, the British Virgin Islands by 11.2 per cent, Anguilla by 6.3 per cent and the US Virgin Islands by 5.6 per cent. Some destinations which were impacted minimally by the storms also experienced losses, with flights to St. Kitts & Nevis falling by 34.3 per cent, Montserrat by 21.5 per cent and the Turks & Caicos Islands by -8.1 per cent.
The capacity to all of these destinations was consequently adversely affected with St. Maarten experiencing a near 50 per cent falloff and St. Kitts & Nevis and Montserrat having one third fewer seats available than in the corresponding month.
On the other hand, Cuba’s capacity grew by 10 per cent despite the changes to the schedule. The new services from the United States were a major influence on this performance.
Among the regional-based airlines, Caribbean Airlines and LIAT are the largest suppliers of capacity to the region and both registered declines, with LIAT recording a 21.3 per cent fall and Caribbean Airlines down by 9.5 per cent.
JetBlue’s increasing dominance among overseas carriers and its expansion in the region continued, as it recorded a 2.8 per cent rise in frequency and a corresponding 5.6 per cent growth in capacity. For American Airlines, the second largest supplier of service to the region, there were 10.6 per cent fewer flights and the available capacity declined by 8.5 per cent.
It should be noted, however, that the air capacity in the region for the first nine months of 2017 increased by approximately five per cent when compared to the same period of 2016.
Performance of Major Carriers
Below is a list of airlines presently serving the Caribbean region that were impacted in the third quarter (Q3) of 2017 as a direct result of the damage caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September.
It must be noted that some airlines were also impacted by Hurricane Harvey in the United States. Projections by these airlines and economists is that the impact will be seen in the fall in pre-tax revenue for the rest of 2017, as some destinations served will not be fully operational. The worst impacted destinations are Anguilla, Barbuda, The British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.
American Airlines reported losses of US$75 million in Q3 due to hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. AA had to close thirty of the stations and had the most cancellations of any of the top six airlines serving the Caribbean. Eight thousand flights were cancelled due to bad weather according to AA chairman and CEO Doug Parker.
United reported US$185 million in pre-tax losses for Q3. It closed its hub in Houston, Texas for four days due to Hurricane Harvey. United did not report the total number of cancelled flights.
Southwest reported a loss of US$100 million in revenue and cancelled five thousand flights due to Harvey and Irma, as well as the earthquakes in Mexico in September.
Spirit reported losses of US$40 million in revenue due to the three hurricanes. The carrier cancelled 1,650 flights. Note that during this time Spirit also had some pilot disputes.
Delta reported losses of US$120 million due to Hurricane Irma and the related cancellation and disruptions.
JetBlue reported losses of US$44 million in revenue, having had to cancel 2,500 flights in Q3. The airline is predicting an overall loss of between US$70 and US$90 million in Q4 as a result of the after effect of the hurricanes, according to president and CEO Robin Hayes. JetBlue has also redeployed capacity from Puerto Rico to other leisure destinations in its programme, and projects that by the end of 2018 it will return to the full Puerto Rico flight schedule. The airline has increased service to Florida and the Southern Caribbean.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
While not revealing specific revenue losses and cancellations, KLM has advised that it resumed flights to Princess Juliana International Airport in St Maarten as of 29 October, with two flights a week, down from four flights a week pre- Hurricane Irma. These two flights now include stopovers in Curacao. KLM is also adding three extra flights a week to Curacao’s already seven flights a week.
LIAT reports that it expects to end 2017 with a loss of US$13.25 million due to the hurricanes. It anticipates a US$4.6 million loss between October and December 2017.
According to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, the chairman of LIAT’s shareholder governments, 408 flights were cancelled between June and September, compared to 67 for the same period last year. This was as a direct result of the closure of airports in Dominica, St. Maarten, the BVI and Puerto Rico. These markets account for 30 per cent of total LIAT flights and 34 per cent of total revenue. LIAT anticipates that it will take nine to 12 months for market recovery.
Impact on Visitor Arrivals to the Caribbean
The available arrivals data from Caribbean destinations is limited at this time as the October numbers are not yet in and only nine destinations have so far reported tourist arrival data for September. Therefore, it is still too early to provide accurate numbers.
However, with several of the key cruise destinations, including Puerto Rico, St. Maarten and the US Virgin Islands recovering from the impact of the hurricanes, cruise lines made changes to their itineraries to include alternative regional ports which remained open.
These redeployments have benefited countries such as Curacao, which registered a 138.3 per cent rise in cruise passenger arrivals in September, Jamaica (54.1 per cent), the Cayman Islands and Grenada.
Intention to travel
Many destinations have been promoting that “the best way to help the Caribbean, is to visit the Caribbean”, which seems to resonate with travellers.
More recently, interviews were conducted with a few travel professionals and their sentiments are the same.
Passengers booked on Caribbean cruises are looking forward to their holidays. Some are interested in seeing the devastation, but all are interested in helping out in various ways like making more purchases in local shops or taking shore excursions.
Post Hurricane Recovery
Virtually all of the affected countries are reporting that they are open again for business, although not at full capacity, with everyone of them planning some sort of event either later this year or early next year.
Anguilla is reporting that just over 30 per cent of room stock will be available for the festive season, in a product mix of villas, charming escapes and vacation/holiday apartment rentals, and anticipates that 70 per cent of rooms on the island will be available by April 2018.
The Reef by CuinsinArt will open from 1 April 2018, CuisinArt Golf Resort and Spa is targeting the smmer 2018; and the Belmond Cap Juluca, which closed at the end of August for a 14-month multi-million dollar renovation, is on schedule to open for November 2018.
The Anguilla Tourist Board (ATB)has created a website, www.Irma.IvisitAnguilla.com, where the information can be found on property and restaurant openings, restoration of services and attractions as well as relief efforts.
The ATB reports that traditionally hotels in Anguilla close in September and October for renovation and refurbishing, and reopen in November for the season. Therefore, at this point, closures are primarily due to damage from Hurricane Irma.
Most local restaurants have reopened, with approximately 70 per cent ready for the Christmas and New Year, but some attraction operators are taking a bit longer to recover.
However, the ATB states that the beaches are in fantastic shape, so swimming, snorkelling, diving and glass bottom boat rides, are all available; the championship golf course at CuisinArt will reopen in December and the Anguilla Tennis Academy will open to host the Anguilla Cup from 15 -20 January, 2018, with a juniors and seniors tournament, tennis clinics, a tennis camp, and pro exhibition match.
Regarding the overall damage assessment cost, the ATB states: “Anguilla was damaged but not destroyed by Hurricane Irma. Our flat terrain and the fact that many of our buildings have concrete foundations also helped to mitigate the impact of the storm. As a British overseas territory the British government has committed funds to help us rebuild. The government is still conducting its assessment, so a final figure has not yet been determined.”
The Clayton J Lloyd Intl Airport (AXA) opened within a week of Irma’s passage, while Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten (SXM), a major transit hub for Anguilla, opened on 10 October, albeit with limited facilities. Puerto Rico’s Luis Munoz Marin Airport, also a major gateway for Anguilla, is also open.
Anguilla and St Maarten airports are open during daylight hours. Seaborne Airlines, Anguilla Air Services, Trans Anguilla Airways, Air Sunshine, Tradewind Aviation and Caribbean Helicopters are all operating scheduled and charter flights to San Juan, St. Maarten, Antigua and St. Kitts.
While Anguilla does not have a cruise port, and the Blowing Point ferry terminal has been demolished to make way for new construction, ferry services are operating to and from Anguilla to the Dutch side of St. Maarten through Funtime Charters, Calypso Charters, GB Express and Gotcha Sea Tours. The ferry from Anguilla to Marigot on French St Martin reopened on Saturday 4 November. Visitors and residents are processed through customs and immigration at the police station at Blowing Point.
Approximately 40 per cent of the local power company, ANGEC’s infrastructure has been restored, and crews are working round the clock with a plan to cover 70 per cent of the island, including Sandy Ground, Island Harbour, East End and Blowing Point, by Christmas.
Water has been restored to households and businesses in Anguilla. Operations at the Water Corporation of Anguilla have returned to normality and all lines of access to public water are open.
According to the ATB, thanks to the resilience and industriousness of the Anguillian people, things are pretty much back to normal. Phone and internet services have been restored, schools are open, gas stations, groceries and pharmacies are all open and are well stocked. The major inconvenience remains the lack of power, but generators are gradually filling the gap.
Hotels are on normal schedules throughout the islands of The Bahamas , and all islands are open for business.
Aside from those islands, commercial flights continue to service all the main tourism destinations and the beaches, attractions and hotels are operating normally.
On the 280 hotels in New Providence, Grand Bahamas and the Family Islands, approximately 97 per cent are open, with the remaining three per cent closed due to hurricane damage. These include Falcon Crest Apartments, Silvertail Fishing Lodge & Resort and Ponderosa Bar & Restaurant (Hotel) in Ragged Island, Crooked Island Lodge ( formerly Pitts Town Landing) in Crooked Island, Chester's Bonefish Lodge, Airport Inn and Nai's Guest House in Acklins and Blue Water Resort in New Providence.
In addition, the following hotels closed due to seasonal closing:
The following properties are opened to welcome visitors:
Air Antilles, Air Sunshine, LIAT, Seaborne Airlines, WINAIR, and Trans Island Air have all announced resumption of services to Douglas Charles Airport. Costal Air Transport and Express Carrier have also resumed regular services to Canefield Airport. L’Express des Iles fast ferry service is operating daily between Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St. Lucia. Travellers interested in visiting the destination should inquire with their travel agent or on the websites of the various carriers.
The Dominica Watersports Association has reported 35 per cent damage to reefs at 10 dive sites. All dive operators are closed, however some are expected to reopen in January 2018. Once operations resume, the number of dives per site will be reduced to limit any negative impact on the fragile underwater ecosystem.
Waitukubuli National Trail
All 14 segments of the Waitukubuli National Trail remain closed. Assessments of the damage to the trail are currently being undertaken.
According to the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), 72 per cent of hotels are open and operating (108 out of 149 endorsed hotels), especially those in the San Juan area, and are taking new reservations.
The PRTC adds that 35 hotels are reported closed as a result of damage from Hurricane Maria, with many of them working on reopening shortly and are currently accepting future reservations.
Some also may be only open to first responders at this time. The PRTC is advising that for property specific information, visitors should contact the hotels directly.
More than 450 restaurants, including franchises, are open for business, including restaurants in the Condado, Old San Juan and Santurce areas, 27 tour operators and 16 major car rental companies with 61 dealers throughout the island, are open for business.
The PRTC is also reporting that 66 per cent of casinos are open, 38 per cent are open 24 hours.
Iconic attractions currently open include:
One an assessment of hurricane damage, the PRTC said: “It is too soon to tell what the economic impact may be. But, our confidence at the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) continues to grow as we work together with partners to make great progress. Recent efforts allow us to more quickly to reactivate tourism on the island. Major decisions by different partners of the tourism industry are proof of their confidence in Puerto Rico as a major hub in the Caribbean. We hope that all this, coupled with the fact that our capital of San Juan was recently showcased as one of Lonely Planet's "Best in Travel" Top 10 Cities for 2018, reinvigorates travellers, as much as it does us, that we’re ready to welcome visitors with open arms. “
Luis Munoz Marin Airport (SJU) is open and receiving commercial flights. Airlines currently operating to and from SJU include:
The airport is fully operational and airlines are resuming normal operations with approximately 70 flights per day, while the San Juan Port is open with 34 cruise shore excursions fully operational. Six thousand cruise passengers embarked from San Juan on October 28.
Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas returned to San Juan as homeport on 7 October , and announced last week that its Freedom of the Seas will add San Juan as a port of call starting 30 November.
Carnival Cruise Line announced that Carnival Fascination will resume transit stops in San Juan starting 30 November, while Viking Ocean Cruises’ Viking Sea made its first-ever call to San Juan on 26 October. The ship will be making both homeport and transit stops. It welcomed 750 passengers, almost 500 of which enjoyed shore excursions before spending the night on the ship to begin their trip across the Caribbean. Celebrity Summit from Celebrity Cruises arrived in San Juan on 28 October, brining 1,540 passengers, and departed on its Caribbean itinerary with 1,800. It was due to return to San Juan on 4 November.
According to status.pr, the government website that provides post-hurricane updates, 36.9 per cent of Puerto Rico Power Authority (PPPA) customers have electricity. However, for those that do not, they may have power through generators. The website also states that 83.11 per cent of the water company, PRASA customers have running water, with running water in 91 per cent of San Juan and some form of water distribution in all 78 municipalities
Regarding the level of normality, the PRTC states: “After a challenging aftershock following Hurricane Maria, our confidence at the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) continues to grow as we work together with partners to make great progress and rebuild. This is seen in San Juan, specifically, which has become the centre of the island’s efforts to rebuild. With 100 per cent of AMA (Metropolitan Bus Authority) bus transportation, 100 per cent of ports operating and 91 per cent water running in the metro area, both first responders and locals alike frequent the capital when seeking a sense of normality. On the Island, almost 90 per cent of supermarkets are open, there are approximately 84 per cent of gas stations operational, more than 100 hotels taking guests and more than 450 restaurants for visitors and locals to enjoy. The presence of visitors means businesses have visitors to attend to, whether that be tour guides offering excursions, souvenir shops selling trinkets, restaurants serving our delicious food, or taxis taking visitors to and from. We are feeling very good about our continued progress.”
The United States Virgin Islands
The USVI department of tourism states that many hotels and villas on St. Croix are currently open for visitors, including The Buccaneer, which started welcoming leisure guests on 1 November. Others will be renovated and reopened later this year and in 2018.
The hurricanes’ impact on St. Thomas/St. John was more significant, and while several hotels and villas are currently open for visitors, and many are currently housing relief workers, others will be renovated and reopened in early 2018. Hotels needing more extensive renovations are expected to reopen in the latter part of 2018 and in early 2019. There are approximately 4,500 traditional hotel rooms and another 4,000+ Airbnb, VRBO and timeshare units in the USVI.
Restaurants and shops in the Main Street and Havensight Mall areas of St. Thomas are open, as are restaurants and shops in downtown Christiansted, St. Croix. More restaurants and shops are reopening daily as power restoration spreads throughout the Territory.
Meantime, many attractions, including beaches such as Magens Bay and Smith Bay Park, are open and ready for business in St. Thomas. Other popular attractions that are open include Buck Island Sail and Snorkel Catamaran, Abi’s Beach Bar, CastawayTours and Coral World in St. Thomas, and in St. Croix, Buccaneer Golf Course, SkyDive Virgin Islands and the Casino at Hotel Caravelle. Point Udall, located at the eastern end of St. Croix, was not impacted by the hurricanes.
Both Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix and Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas have been open for several weeks and are accepting daily commercial flights, with service available from American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines. Scheduled service varies daily.
All cruise ports are open. These include the West Indian Company Limited (WICO) Havensight facility and the Virgin Islands Port Authority's (VIPA) Crown Bay Center dock, both in St. Thomas, and Ann E. Abramson Pier in Frederiksted, St. Croix. More than two dozen cruise ship calls are scheduled for the month of November.
As of October 30, 2017, 62 per cent of St. Thomas, 81 per cent of St. Croix and 86 per cent of St. John was without power. There are more than 500 linemen in the territory working on restoration, and power is expected to be restored to 90 per cent of the Territory by the end of 2017.
However, water is available throughout the Territory. The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) has issued a precautionary “boil water” notice for potable water customers. Most homes have cisterns, so residents without potable water through WAPA still have access via cisterns.
The department of tourism reports that progress is being made daily to restore the territory to normality. Virgin Islanders have responded to this crisis with remarkable spirit and fortitude, and are seeing the fruits of their collective efforts each day.
Governor Kenneth E. Mapp has stated that the cost to rebuild the territory’s infrastructure is estimated at US$5.5 billion dollars. This figure does not include the cost to repair damage to private properties including homes, hotels, restaurants, attractions and activities.
Events and activities
As a sign that they are open for business, the affected countries are planning a series of events and activities in the coming months. For a full list of these events, including in countries not impacted by the hurricanes but are encouraging tourists that the best way to help the Caribbean is to visit the Caribbean, please visit www.onecaribbean.org.
The Anguilla Cup( 15- 20 January, 2018)
The 2nd Annual Anguilla International Tennis Federation (ITF) championships takes place at the Anguilla Tennis Academy; the event is part of the ITF Caribbean circuit. The event comprises a junior under 18 ITF championship, an under 14 tournament, a tennis camp, tennis clinic and pro exhibition match. For more information and registration visit www.anguillacup.com
Moonsplash ( 15-18 March, 2018)
Annual and eagerly awaited concert takes place at the Dune Preserve on Rendezvous Bay, timed to coincide with the first full moon before Easter. The concerts are hosted by Anguilla’s very own Bankie Banx, featuring internationally-acclaimed and regional recording artistes from around the world.
Festival del Mar (30 March - 1April)
The annual seafood festival takes place on the Easter weekend. Boat racing, crab races, swimming competition, a culinary cook-off and live music are just a few of the many attractions on this fun-filled weekend.
British Virgin Islands
BVI Charter Yacht Society Boat Show (7-10 November, 2017)
This annual exhibition will be held at Nanny Cay Marina. The show will feature 30-35 luxury yachts. “Our water is still brilliantly blue, the anchorages are still beautiful and near one another, and the tradewinds will be blowing,” Charter Yacht Society chairman Ruth Ross said.
For more information and to register, see here.
Anegada Lobster Festival (25-26 November , 2017)
The BVI is thrilled to announce the return of the highly anticipated Anegada Lobster Festival. An epicurean’s delight, this annual event will celebrate the BVI’s fresh, delectable seafood offerings exclusively available on the island of Anegada. More information can be found here.
Foxy’s Old Years Night (31 December, 2017)
Among the BVI’s most iconic and beloved beach bars, Foxy’s will host its treasured New Year’s celebration, Old Years Night. Be part of the biggest weekend party in the Caribbean! Eat, drink and be merry with non-stop entertainment, and bask in the community’s unbreakable spirit as we look forward to new beginnings in 2018.
47th Annual BVI Spring Regatta (26 March – 1 April 1, 2018)
We will be racing again! The BVI will welcome sailors to Nanny Cay for this classic annual event, including the new 165 nautical mile Full Moon Race on March 27. Visiting yachtsmen will truly make an important contribution toward the region’s tourism and economic recovery. Register here!
Mas Domnik - The Real Mas (12 & 13 Feb, 2018)
The most original of all carnivals showcases the rich culture and heritage of the island. This pre-Lenten festival envelopes people of all ages equally with competitions like the Princess Show, Teenage Pageant, Junior Monarch, Bouyon jams, National Queen Pageant and the Calypso Monarch. The season climaxes on 12 and 13 February when the streets come alive with festivity, celebration and fun. This revelry is an inviting display of colour and creativity set off by the sweet sounds of Calypso and infectious rhythms of Bouyon, which originated in Dominica.
Contact: Dominica Festivals Committee via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +767-448-4833.
St. Martin (French)
This is St. Martin’s programme of activities for Caribbean Tourism Month observed every November.
Portrait and Poetry (5 November)
The arts and culture departments of both the French St. Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten, with the collaboration of the French tourist office, announce the upcoming event entitled, “Portrait and Poetry Corner” where the work and talents of local artists will be displayed through their paintings, poetry and music.
This free event takes place from 1p.m. to 5 p.m. on 5 November at the Marigot Waterfront and the theme is based on Hurricane Irma.
1, 2, TREE for Saint Martin (7 November)
The French tourist office in collaboration with the arts and culture department, the department of environmental affairs and the district councils, is working on a project to familiar replant fruit trees, flowers and medicinal plants.
The message conveyed through this project is to not forget the environment during the reconstruction of the island, and also to encourage people to replant their gardens. Therefore, on Caribbean Tourism Day, a symbolic gesture of planting a tree in the garden of the Collectivity will be carried out by the presidents of the Collectivity and the Tourist Office.
Pre St Martin’s Day ( 10 November)
A small festive village will be set up in the district of French Quarter to kick off St Martin’s Day Celebration. Various activities, including dancing, will be part of the programme.
St Martin’s Day Celebration (11 November)
The programme of activities for St Martin’s Day, also known as French Quarter’s Fete, includes traditional activities, music, cultural heritage and local dishes. November 11th is also known as “French Quarter’s Fete”
6 Villages, 6 Flavors, 1 St Martin (26 November)
Christmas has always been an impactful cultural celebration in St Martin. This year the tourist office will work closely with the cultural department and the district councils to organize the festivities.
The Christmas celebration will begin with the launching of the first Christmas village in front of and in the garden of the Collectivity. It will be a moment of sharing and exchanging, highlighted by a display of traditional Christmas dishes and goodies which will be on sale.
Throughout the day local bands such as Jolly Boys, Rhythm Boys, Bottle Neck Crew, Boulogne Combo and the Gospel Group will showcase their talent. During the month of December, the different districts will host the Christmas village festivities. Each district will portray its originality.
SXM Smile Again Event ( 29 November)
At the end of our 2017 Caribbean Tourism Month celebration, students who follow tourism classes will spell out SXM Smile Again with their bodies.