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Assessments are still coming in from the impact of Hurricane Irma on a number of Caribbean countries in the northern Leeward Islands and the northern Caribbean with warnings and watches still in place for a few countries in Irma’s path.
Additionally, due to the projected path of Hurricane Jose, a category 4 storm, tropical storm and hurricane watches and warnings have been issued for some countries in the northern Leeward Islands.
Following is an update regarding Irma’s impact as well as steps being taken by countries still in Irma’s path. Reports from CHTA-member hotels have been included where available and details regarding Jose’s projected track are listed.
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua was not impacted by Hurricane Irma with electricity being resort to the Capital St. John’s and most parts of the island. The V.C. Bird International Airport opened for all flights on Thursday, 7 September.
On the other hand, Barbuda with its approximately 1,800 residents was severely impacted by the hurricane which passed directly over the small island, resulting in one fatality. The prime minister, Gaston Browne said 90 per cent of homes were destroyed. Barbuda’s hotel infrastructure was also damaged, but with less than 100 hotel rooms the overall effect on tourism as a whole is minimal.
With Hurricane Jose threatening, the prime minister issued a mandatory evacuation order for Barbuda on Friday 8 September, the very day the first of three Amerijet cargo planes, with over 120, 000 pounds of hurricane relief for the island arrived on Antigua.
The Government of Venezuela has also made two aircraft available to transport goods for Barbuda as well as a medical team of 20 doctors and nurses experienced in disasters.
N.B. In the most recent update on Hurricane Jose issued at at 11a.m. Eastern Caribbean Time (15:00 GMT) by the National Hurricane Centre in the US, the tropical storm watch for Antigua, the British Virgin Islands, St. Thomas and St. John had been discontinued. A hurricane warning remained in effect for Sint Maarten, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, and a tropical storm warning remained in effect for Anguilla, Barbuda, Saba and St. Eustatius.
Updates from individual hotels on Antigua are as follows:
• Curtain Bluff: Property emerged from the tail of the storm without any damage. Most importantly, all staff and their families are unharmed. The clean up of the property has begun and communications will soon be restored.
• Cocos Hotel: No long term damages
• Galley Bay: Guests are doing just fine and are safe. Operational updates will be available in the coming days
• Hermitage Bay: A little waterlogged from the swells which came up but other than that all is well.
• Jumby Bay Island: Members of the Jumby Bay Island team have assessed the island discovered no structural damage to any of the resort or homes. A landscaping clean-up will be needed, however. Jumby Bay Island is currently closed as part of its annual maintenance programme and therefore no guests were on the island when Hurricane Irma passed. Jumby Bay Island did have a skeleton team of facility and security staff present throughout the storm. The reopening remains on schedule for 9 October, 2017.
• Keyonna Beach Resort: No long term damage.
• Pineapple Beach Club: Guests are safe. Operational updates in the coming days.
• St. James Club: Guests are safe. Operational updates in the coming days.
• Verandah: Guests are safe. Operational updates in the coming days
The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency is reporting the airport runway and most roads leading to the airport have been cleared of debris. The agency is also reporting that 90 per cent of government buildings and business structures were damaged as well as 90 per cent of the electricity infrastructure. There is also significant damage to the main water supply.
The British government has deployed three humanitarian aid experts from the UK to assist with needs assessments and coordination.
The British naval ship Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay has arrived in the territory, with 40 Royal Marines and Army engineers on board. The ship carries a range of equipment to support humanitarian responses including vehicles, tents and facilities to purify water.hundreds of troops and the Royal Navy flagship HMS Ocean to its overseas islands.
Quintessence Hotel which had been expected to reopen 1 November suffered damage during Hurricane Irma, so those plans have been delayed.
The Islands of The Bahamas
The all clear has been given for Nassau, New Providence the most populous island, and popular destination within the country. The all clear for the central and southeastern Bahamas was issued earlier today.
At this time only Grand Bahama, Bimini, and Andros remain under a hurricane warning as Hurricane Irma moves away from the islands-nation.
The Lynden Pindling International Airport in Nassau sustained no damage from Hurricane Irma and will resume operations tomorrow Sunday, 10 September at 5:00 a.m.
The travelling public is encouraged to contact their respective airlines for flight information using the listing of all airlines and their contacts found on LPIA’s website at nassaulpia.com
All other airports throughout The Islands of The Bahamas remain closed, but operations will resume as soon as the National Emergency Management Agency gives the “all clear” and the airports have been assessed and cleared for opening.
Cruise ports of entry throughout The Bahamas will also be assessed for clearance to re-open. Cruise reservation holders should check directly with their cruise providers for updates on departures and itineraries.
British Virgin Islands
The destruction caused by Hurricane Irma in the British Virgin Islands has been devastating, according to a statement from Sharon Flax-Brutus, the director of tourism. With cell phone towers down and power outages, communication to, from and within, the territory has been difficult, impacting the ability to fully assess the damage. The destination has lost entire structures and many homes are without roofs, or have been diminished to merely foundations.
The Government has begun to coordinate humanitarian relief efforts and an initial clean-up operation. The UK government is sending Royal Navy flagship HMS Ocean to offer relief and support.
Updates from individual hotels in the British Virgin Islands are as follows:
• Bitter End Yacht Club: the hotel was on its annual closure during the storm. The crew on the ground is safe.
• Peter Island Resort & Spa: Guests and on-island staff are safe.
• Rosewood Little Dix Bay: Rosewood Little Dix Bay is currently closed for renovation and therefore no guests were present at the resort and the management team was relocated prior to the storm.
• Scrub Island: All guests and associates are safe.
Hurricane Irma is passing along the northern coast of Cuba, where thousands of tourists were evacuated from low-lying cays off the coast.
Punta Cana International Airport has resumed normal operations following the passage of Hurricane Irma after the storm passed off Punta Cana’s coast. The area’s hotel sector is reporting no major damage. Damaged homes and flooded streets in Cabarete and Sosua have been reported.
Reports indicate that damage and flooding is minor in Haiti but warnings for possible flooding are still in effect.
The Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) is reporting that major tourism infrastructure and attractions are operational and the island can continue to welcome new visitors. The PRTC said while there have been power outages, many hotels, as well as essential services such as hospitals, have generators and are operational. The majority of hotels throughout mainland Puerto Rico are ready to welcome new guests. Attractions such as parks and beaches are currently being assessed to ensure a committed focus on quick clean up in the coming days.
Flights to and from Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport have resumed. Puerto Rico’s port is operational and should be receiving cruises by September 9.
Updates from individual hotels in Puerto Rico are as follows:
• Condado Plaza Hilton: Minor damage
• El Conquistador Resort: Operational and working on getting all amenities back to normal. The clean-up of the areas in under way and some minor damage is being attended to. Las Casitas Village will reopen when electricity is restored.
• El San Juan Hotel: The team and property are safe. The hotel has received minimal damage and all efforts are being made to re-open as soon as the power is restored.
• Hotel El Convento: All guests, associates and clients are safe. There was no significant damage to the hotel and operations are resuming, including Patio del Níspero & Alegría Patio Bar.
• InterContinental San Juan: Business as usual.
• Rincon Beach: Open for business
• San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel: The hotel sustained no damage, have full power, and is open for business.
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts & Nevis sustained minimal damage overall and both St. Kitts’ Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport and Nevis’ Vance W. Amory International Airport have reopened.
Hotels in St. Kitts reported no structural damage while Nevis’ hotel updates include:
• Four Seasons Resort Nevis is reporting the resort is in fine shape and all areas are generally dry
• Hermitage Inn reported general debris and no structural damage
• The Great House and Cottages at Nisbett Plantation Beach Club are in excellent condition. However, there was damage to the Sea Breeze Beach Bar, the decking and the beach.
It has been reported that St. Barth’s was heavily impacted by Hurricane Irma which destroyed government buildings and badly damaged private homes and resorts including the Eden Rock Hotel. There is flooding throughout the destination. The French government is sending people and supplies to the country to assist with recovery efforts.
St. Maarten (Dutch) / St. Martin (French)
The recovery effort continues. Director of tourism for Dutch St. Maarten Rolando Brison is reporting that Sun Wing has evacuated some visitors to Montreal, Canada, while other guests have also been evacuated. The Princess Juliana International Airport has been receiving flights that are bringing in relief supplies, and evacuating guests. No passengers, including media, are being allowed in at the moment due to a shortage of staff to man the airport.
However, the airport has been closed, pending the passage of Hurricane Jose, which is now projected to pass away from the Franco-Dutch island. In a best case scenario, he said, the airport can reopen on Sunday 10 September for the resumption of relief flights.
Updates from St. Maarten / St. Martin hotels are as follows:
• Beach Plaza: Badly damaged
• Hotel Mercure: Damaged
• Oyster Bay Beach Resort: Significant damage
• Riu Palace St. Martin: The infrastructure is severely affected, but hotel has confirmed that all the guests and employees are fine and there is sufficient water and food for all guests and employees.
• Sonesta: All guests and staff of Sonesta Maho Beach Resort Casino & Spa, Sonesta Ocean Point Resort and Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort & Casino are safe and unharmed. Resort damage is severe. Guests are currently in on-property ‘safe areas’ at the resorts. All further reservations from now through the end of 2017 have been cancelled. Guests are in comfortable conditions and are provided with security, food, and water.
• Sonesta Sint Maarten resorts can confirm that Jonathan Falwell, who was an in-house guest of Sonesta Ocean Point Resort contacted Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical United States-based Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world, to provide a DC-8 with supplies and a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) on Friday, 8 September 2017. Twenty-seven guests, of Sonesta Sint Maarten Resorts, including the elderly, anyone with a medical condition, women and children, were evacuated on that aircraft. In addition, 25 guests of Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort were evacuated on a United States C130 military aircraft on Friday, 8 September at sundown.
• Further evacuations of guests of Sonesta Great Bay and Sonesta Maho Beach Resort are being planned for today, Saturday, 9 September via a commercial aircraft. This plane is expected to depart for Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. A vessel from the Dutch marines has also docked in St. Maarten to facilitate the arrival of flights in from Curacao, meaning there are more troops and supplies on the ground in Sint Maarten.
• Westin Dawn Beach: Suffered significant damage.
Both the French and Dutch governments are sending people to the country along with supplies and vital aid.
A few roofs lost, some downed trees, but the island suffered minimal damage by Hurricane Irma. The airport and seaport are both operational, and telephone, internet, electricity are water are also back up.
Turks and Caicos Islands
Governor Dr. John Freeman and Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson given the all-clear. They have said in a joint statement that assessment of the damage is continuing.
The director of Tourism Ramon Andrews reported that Turks and Caicos Islands experienced flooding, some structural damage, roofs that have been blown off, downed trees, no loss of life and all visitors are safe.
Many roads have been flooded and power lines and transformers are down, according to the emergency management agency.
Providenciales International Airport (PLS) is currently closed.
Updates from individual properties in the Turks & Caicos Islands are as follows:
• Alexandra Resort, Blue Haven Resort and Beach House: All guests and staff of the three resorts are reported safe and unharmed, and are remaining on property pending further instructions from the authorities on the conditions of roads, electricity and the status of the airport. The resorts have sufficient supplies, food and water to care for all guests in the interim. The resorts sustained some wind and water damage due to the storm, and will be closed for arrivals for 30 days through 8 October.
• Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa: All guests are safe – no power or water yet
• Gansevoort Turks & Caicos, A Wymara Resort: All guests are safe, power off and water is temporarily off, phones are out but cell and internet are working
• La Vista Azul: All guests are safe – no power or water yet
• Ocean Club Resorts: All guests are safe – no power or water yet
• Ports of Call Resort: All guests are safe – no power or water yet
• The Regent Grand: All staff and guests are safe
• Sands at Grace Bay: All is well
• Seven Stars Resort: All guests are safe – no power or water yet
• The Shore Club: All staff and guests are safe
• Villa Del Mar: All guests are safe, power & water off
United States Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas)
The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism has advised that full assessment on the impact of Hurricane Irma is under way and while St. Croix is getting back to business, visitors are being encouraged not to visit St. Thomas and St. John.
According to commissioner of tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty, “The island of St. Croix did not receive the full brunt of the storm, and St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport received its first commercial flight” a JetBlue flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico on Friday 8 September.
She reported that communication is still limited, there is significant damage to infrastructure in St. Thomas and St. John, and the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas will not be open for commercial traffic before Jose passes the area this weekend.
To ensure everyone’s safety, the postponement of all scheduled visits to St. Thomas and St. John is being recommended.
The storm has resulted in four casualties to date on the island of St. Thomas.
The following updates have been shared by individual properties in the U.S. Virgin Islands:
• The Buccaneer (St. Croix): Open for business. Facilities are in good shape, but there may be some limitation of services over the next few days.
• Caneel Bay (St. John): Complete power outage at the resort.
• Westin St. John Resort Villas (St. John): All associates, owners and guests are safe. The resort and the surrounding areas experienced some damage and overall impact is being assessed.
• Bluebeard’s Castle Resort (St. Thomas): Everyone who was onsite is safe. The property has sustained major damage, which is currently being assessed.
• Point Pleasant Resort (St. Thomas): Everyone at the resort is safe, but without power and cell phone service. The team is currently assessing damage, and will share new information when available.
• Secret Harbour Beach Resort (St. Thomas): All guests and staff are safe. There is no major structural damage to the buildings. The generator is still working.
• Sugar Bay Resort & Spa (St. Thomas): All guests and team members are safe. The damage is being assessed and updated information will be provided when available.
• Windward Passage (St. Thomas): Will be closed for six months.
The CTO and CHTA will continue to share updates from member countries in the CTO Storm Watch Centre on http://www.onecaribbean.org/cto-storm-watch-centre/ as well as on CHTA’s website http://www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com/knowledge-center/hurricane-center/
CTO has activated its CTO Relief Fund through GoFundMe to help families and countries rebuild after hurricanes, with monies raided being sent directly to CTO-member destinations affected by the catastrophic storm. For more information on CTO’s Relief Fund or 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