Recommend December 2017 - 96

Caribbean

8 Events of 2017 That Will Impact
Future Caribbean Travel
Ed Wetschler

"The Caribbean had been performing at a
healthy growth rate of 5.2 percent between
January and June," said CTO (Caribbean
Tourism Organization) chair Joy Jibrilu at
the State of the Tourism Industry Conference in
October, and growth continued to soar this
summer until September, when two Category
5 hurricanes crashed the party. Let's see how
this and other events of 2017 will affect the
islands-and you-in 2018.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria
The ways this double disaster will affect
travel are not always the obvious ones:
n You know that the storms didn't hurt the
majority of islands, but does the public know
that? Unlikely. (I wish I had a dollar for every
time a newscaster pronounced "Barbuda" as
"Barbados.") And does the public realize that
hurricane season is over after Thanksgiving?
Also unlikely, so you're probably spending
more time than usual teaching clients
remedial geography, and you'll be doing it
in 2018, too. At least you won't be alone:
96 december 2017

Travel Leaders Group, among others, is also
trying to edify the public.
n For the Caribbean as a whole, says CTO
general secretary Hugh Riley, "the revised
forecast for 2017 is now at 1 to 2 percent."
However, some islands are, of course, gaining
visitors at the expense of others. This is most
dramatic with cruises, because ships dropped
stops at the saints-Barths, Croix, Juan,
Maarten/Martin, Thomas-and rescheduled
to unaffected destinations (e.g. Grenada).
However, cruise lines won't permanently
abandon islands. Some Royal Caribbean
and Viking ships have returned to San Juan,
Disney will soon be there, cruise ships have
already returned to St. Maarten and St.
Thomas, and at least 90 ships will visit St.
Croix in 2018.
n But what about land-based tourism?
JetBlue has diminished its capacity to San
Juan, aiming to redirect some aircraft to
Aruba, Barbados, and Grand Cayman. The
airline may not return in full until late
2018. And here's a bad omen from Canada:

Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing, and Air
Transat have canceled Sint Maarten flights
for this winter. That hurts other islands (e.g.
Anguilla, St. Barths), too.
n Then again, the re-opening of hotels
on some affected islands is outpacing the
reconstruction of homes: As I write this, 60
percent of Puerto Rico is without electricity,
yet more than 100 hotels have re-opened;
next month San Juan will even host the
CHTA Marketplace. But is it heartless to
visit a place where employees live in
battered homes outside the tourist zone?
Not really, says CTO's Riley, reasoning that
"the best way to help the Caribbean is to
visit the Caribbean."

More White House
Restrictions on Travel to Cuba
In June Pres. Trump set off alarms by
narrowing the options on visits to Cuba,
but for perspective, remember this:
(1) There are only 340,000 or so people-topeople visits a year, a mere fraction of the
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