Caribbean hurricane damage report

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I received the following this morning, and thought I’d pass along the info on how things are progressing in the Caribbean after the recent rash of hurricanes. It came from the Caribbean Hotel Association, the Caribbean Tourism Organization, the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association, and the International Council of Cruise lines, and is a summary of what they’ll be saying at a press conference this afternoon. It goes on forever, but I thought it was the best roundup I've seen so far, so I included pretty much the whole thing. Click on "read the rest of this post" to find info on specific Caribbean countries or islands.

The following countries were unaffected by the passing of Hurricanes Frances, Ivan and Jeanne:

Anguilla

Antigua & Barbuda

Aruba

Barbados

Belize

Bermuda

Bonaire

British Virgin Islands

Curacao

Dominica

French West Indies (Guadeloupe, St. Barts & St. Martin)

Guyana

Martinique

Montserrat

Puerto Rico

St. Eustatius

St. Kitts & Nevis

St. Lucia

St. Maarten

Suriname

Trinidad & Tobago

U.S. Virgin Islands

BAHAMAS

Represented by: Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, Director General, Bahamas

Within days of Frances and Jeanne, most of The Islands of The Bahamas witnessed the arrival of cruise ships and international flights. With more than 700 islands, only two suffered significant damage: Grand Bahama Island and Abaco. Even the resorts and smaller properties on those islands have returned to business or have announced when they will reopen.

International airports on all islands in The Bahamas including Nassau International and Grand Bahama International are fully operational as well as cruise ports and major attractions.

Nassau/Paradise Island (Central Bahamas) experienced minimal cosmetic damage from Hurricane Frances and no impact from Hurricane Jeanne. Major resorts including Atlantis-Paradise Island, Nassau Beach Hotel, British Colonial Hilton, Radisson Cable Beach & Golf Resort and Wyndham Nassau Resort & Crystal Palace Casino, Sandals Royal Bahamian and SuperClubs Breezes are open for business.

Grand Bahama Island (Northern Bahamas) – impacted by both hurricanes – continues to rebound in preparation for the winter season. The Best Western Castaways Resort, Island Palms Resort, Island Seas Resort and Pelican Bay Hotel are fully operational. The Sheraton at Our Lucaya (and the Isle of Capri Casino) will resume operations October 14 and The Westin at Our Lucaya will re-open November 1. Other major properties on Grand Bahama Island including the Wyndham Viva Fortuna Beach, The Royal Oasis Golf Resort & Casino and Old Bahama Bay Resort are expected to resume operation after December.

The Out Islands which include Exuma, Harbour Island, Eleuthera, Long Island, Cat Island, Andros, Bimini and the Berry Islands were minimally affected by Hurricane Frances and unaffected by Hurricane Jeanne. Most properties, if not traditionally closed for the fall season, continue to accept reservations. Initial assessments of Abaco indicate that several properties such as the Abaco Beach Resort are open for business while full reports and opening dates for others are pending.

For frequent updates on The Islands Of The Bahamas, visit www.bahamas.com.

CAYMAN ISLANDS

Represented by: Hon. McKeeva Bush, Leader of Government Business, Minister of Tourism, Environment, Development

The public and private sector of the tourism industry are working together to rebuild and reopen the three Cayman Islands for business as soon as possible. We are fortunate that Cayman Brac and Little Cayman suffered relatively less damage to the tourism infrastructure and the reconstruction efforts there are already underway. The Sister Islands are open for business and have been for more than a week now, able to receive dive groups, nature enthusiasts and families looking for a tranquil sea-side getaway. With the inter-island air service available, the Department of Tourism is making sure our business partners and visitors know that two of the three Cayman Islands are in fact open.

As far as Grand Cayman tourism is concerned, together the Government and private sector are working aggressively to facilitate the reconstruction of the tourism industry, acknowledging the destructiveness of Hurricane Ivan will take months to repair for some operators. The industry, especially the hotel sector, is tentatively looking at reopening a cross section of accommodations in time for the American Thanksgiving, while certain individual properties expect to be ready for inspection and re-opening as early as mid-October.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Represented by: Luis Simo, Deputy Minister of Tourism, International Affairs, and Lisette Fernández, Marketing Director of ASONAHORES

The Dominican Republic’s international airports are fully operational and 90% of its hotel rooms are accepting international guests.

The National Hotel & Restaurants Association (Asonahores) explained that Tropical Storm Jeanne (Sept. 16) primarily affected the eastern coastline, with road accesses to some tourism zones also suffering. Authorities have acted promptly to restore the services affected by the flooding, especially the bridge over Chavón River.

Several hotels in the area had to close initially, but most have resumed operations. In some cases, hotels that suffered minor damages have taken advantage of the low season to renovate their installations. The renovations are scheduled to take 15 to 45 days.

For the most part, damage has been to landscaping and some flooding that affected first floors of buildings.

Despite Tropical Storm Jeanne having initially affected some 5,000 hotel rooms in the East Coast of the country, another 15,000 continued fully operational. Even with these rooms out of service, the Dominican Republic, with its 56,378 hotel rooms, has the largest lodging inventory in the Caribbean.

Asonahores highlighted the measures taken by the government to restore ground communication to the Punta Cana-Bavaro over Chavón River in La Romana. Brigades of the Ministry of Public Works are laboring day and night to restore the land bridge.

President Leonel Fernandez and Tourism Minister Felix Jimenez promptly visited the affected areas and met with hoteliers, represented by the president and executive vice president of Asonahores, Enrique de Marchena and Arturo Villanueva, respectively, as well as the president of the Association of Hotels of the East, Ernesto Veloz and the president of the Punta Cana Group, Frank Rainieri in addition to regional, municipal, religious, military and community organization leaders in order to together identify the priorities for the eastern region.

Last week the Panamerican Health Organization, the Ministry of Tourism and other organizations that make up the Health & Tourism Committee expressed their certainty that the country was not at risk of being affected by contagious disease outbreaks due to Tropical Storm Jeanne.

Behavior of the industry In the first eight months of 2004, air arrivals to the Dominican Republic increased 6.2%. Some 2,079,596 visitors arrived by air, or 122,934 more than in the same period in 2003. Tourist arrivals landing at Puerto Plata international airport were up 16.6%, and those arriving by way of Punta Cana’s international airport increased 9.2%.

Average occupancy from January to August was 78%, compared to 75% in 2003, for a 3.7% increase. Arrivals from the United States increased 9% in the first eight months of 2004, from Canada they were up 8.6%, from Spain 31%, from the United Kingdom 21%, and from Holland 57.7%. North American travelers to the Dominican Republic increased 8.8%. North America is the leading source of travelers to the Dominican Republic. Tourism receipts increased 13.9% in 2003, and are estimated at US$3.11 billion, compared to US$2.73 billion in 2002. Tourists spent an average of US$101.27 per day in 2003.

GRENADA

Represented by: Christine Noel-Horsford, U.S. Director, Grenada

First and foremost, our Prime Minister, Doctor the Honorable Keith Mitchell, and Honorable Brenda Hood, Minister of Tourism, apologize for not being able to be here with you today to discuss the tragic events of September 7th - - the day that Hurricane Ivan swept through Grenada causing so much damage. I am sure you understand that their presence in Grenada takes precedent. However, they have asked me to express their sincere gratitude to all of those who have shown such a tremendous outpouring of support, generosity and concern for the people of Grenada. On a personal note, I would like to echo their comments -- Your goodwill is truly appreciated, as our country begins the task of rebuilding.

As you are aware, Grenada was the first island in the Caribbean to suffer devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan, enduring a direct hit by this ferocious Category 4 storm, with the eye passing directly over the capital city of St. George’s and the southern side of the island. Grenada suffered severe damage. Hurricane Ivan claimed the lives of 29 Grenadians, damaged 90 percent of the homes, as well as public buildings and schools, and brought domestic power supplies, telecommunication systems and other infrastructure to a grinding halt. It was the first major hurricane the island has seen since Hurricane Janet back in 1955, which didn’t cause nearly as much destruction and hardship.

The effects of Hurricane Ivan have taken an overwhelming toll on the people of Grenada. But, rest assured, that while the hurricane may have destroyed our homes, our public buildings and inconvenienced our way of life, it has not flattened our spirit. The people of Grenada are extremely resilient and are already on the road to recovery. With the assistance of countries and donor agencies from around the world, Grenadians are committed to restoring the nation back to its former glory. I am pleased to report to you today that conditions, while far from being what they were prior to the storm, continue to improve everyday as life slowly returns to normal.

Water and electricity services are almost fully restored to the capital and we continue to work to insure that the other five parishes including Saint David, Saint Patrick, Saint Andrew, Saint John and Saint Mark are on line as quickly as possible. Most of the major roads in Grenada have been cleared of debris and are again open to traffic. Security, which initially had been tested by widespread looting, is now firmly in place, as the dusk to dawn curfew, which was in effect, has been lifted in five parishes. Several private schools have reopened, while others hope to open by mid-October, and commerce has restarted with many banks, supermarkets, shops and gas stations now open for business.

Every effort is being made to ensure that food supplies and other necessities reach all Grenadians. The National Emergency Relief Organization is now decentralizing the distribution to every parish and so far over 60,000 people have received food and tarpaulins. Likewise for the healthcare system in Grenada, where PAHO/WHO and the Red Cross are playing a dynamic role in assisting the Ministry of Health with any health-related situations. The General Hospital is in full operation.

A National Clean-up Campaign has been initiated by the government, whereby on a weekly basis, teams are sent from village to village to assess and assist in clean-up efforts. In general, I am proud to report that the Grenadian people are steadfast in their commitment to work together as a unified body to reclaim that which Mother Nature has taken.

From the tourism perspective, while it will take some time to fully recover, there is progress being made. Point Salines International Airport is open for daily operations to both regional and international flights between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. BWIA is offering flights from New York and Miami via its Trinidad hub while Air Jamaica has resumed all flights via its Montego Bay hub and its Tuesday, Friday and Sunday non-stop service from JFK/New York. American Airlines is operating a daily flight via San Juan while LIAT is operating four daily scheduled flights to Grenada. Caribbean Star has also resumed service to Grenada. Even the cruise sector is seeing real progress. The port is now operational and several cruise lines expect to begin calls in October.

On the hotel front, Bel Air Plantation, True Blue Bay Resort, Monmot Hotel and Mariposa Hotel sustained minor damage and are already fully operational and accepting guests. The Calabash Hotel, which also suffered minimal damage, expects to reopen by October 30th, while Laluna is planning for a November 25th reopening. Both the Rex Grenadian and Flamboyant Hotel report that they will have rooms available before the end of the year. Blue Horizons Garden Resort expects to reopen within four months while Spice Island Beach Resort, which suffered severe damage, will be closed for one year. LaSource sustained no major structural damage but is currently closed for visiting guests. Hotels have been granted 100 percent concessions for refurbishment and repairs.

The Levera Beach project, a multi-million dollar resort project at Levera Beach, which has been in the works for several years, has been overtaken by Canadian developers who will resume work shortly.

Farmers and fishermen were the hardest hit because their livelihoods were destroyed. However, the FAO and Taiwan are currently working with the Government of Grenada to assess the situation and help resuscitate agriculture.

While the task of fully reconstructing Grenada will take considerable time and effort, I am completely confident that we will reemerge even better than before, because the soul of our great nation remains undamaged.

As the rebuilding process unfolds, we pledge to keep you informed of our progress. As new information becomes available, it will continue to be immediately posted on the website, http://pull.xmr3.com/p/786-BAC1/9499630/http-www.grenadaemergency.com-.html, the official website of the Grenada Embassy and Grenadian Consulates, in conjunction with the Grenada Board of Tourism's US Representatives. Again, let me close with my sincerest appreciation for the members of the CTO for all your assistance during these trying times. I empathize with all of you who were also affected.

JAMAICA

Represented by: Paul Pennicook, Director of Tourism, Jamaica

Welcome, and thank you all for joining us here in New York today. So many of you have expressed concern about our welfare in Jamaica following Hurricane Ivan and we, in turn, are naturally concerned for our neighbors in the Caribbean region.

We felt that the best way to give you a status report would be to show you on-screen how Jamaica came through relatively unscathed. So let’s begin by taking a look at this new video made between September 17 and 19, with post-Ivan footage that shows the Jamaican landscape after the hurricane.

Of course, another 10 days have passed since that tape was shot, and great strides have been made in bringing things back to normal with programs that have cleared away debris and restored landscaping.

While some damage was unfortunately sustained by private homes and farmland, I am happy to report that the tourism sector fared remarkably well, with minimal damage only in certain areas. Four out of six of our resort areas were virtually unharmed. Specifically, the impact was felt most around Negril and on the South Coast, resulting in some property closures that are ongoing until power can be fully restored. Elsewhere across the island, a large percentage of our hotels have remained fully operational with no interruption in service.

Most hotels that closed temporarily through lack of power are again open, and almost all will be fully operational by next week. Properties that had closed before Ivan in order to complete renovation or refurbishment work are on schedule to re-open as originally planned. Sandals Negril is currently completing some cosmetic work necessitated by the storm, and has chosen to remain closed for a refurbishment period involving more extensive upgrades that are in no way related to damage from Ivan.

Keeping the industry apprised of all developments has naturally been a priority for the Jamaica Tourist Board and for our Minister of Industry and Tourism, The Hon. Aloun N’dombet-Assamba. For maximum speed in communications, we have worked via email and by posting daily updates on the Jamaica Web site. Jamaica is of course maintaining a presence as usual at major trade shows, including ASTA in Hong Kong and ITME in Chicago this week.

Support for Jamaican residents who suffered loss has been truly extraordinary, and we are all most grateful to visitors and fellow countrymen who demonstrated courage, cooperation and faith during the crisis. We are thankful for the generosity shown by the United Nations, by our fellow Caribbean countries and by so many nations around the world. Jamaica, too, is reaching out to less fortunate Caribbean nations who suffered severe damage from Ivan, and is helping Grenada and others.

Meanwhile, our ports are welcoming cruise ship arrivals and all air service is running on schedule. Thank you again for your concern, and I look forward to welcoming you soon to my homeland, Jamaica.

ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

Represented by: Hon. René Baptiste, Minister of Tourism and Culture

The people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are extremely thankful for having been spared the full effects of Hurricane Ivan when it passed through this multi-island destination on September 7th, 2004. Known as "Hairouna-Home of the Blessed," St. Vincent and the Grenadines has not been seriously affected by a major hurricane in over 100 years, and this year was no different; Hurricane Ivan delivered a relatively light tap to the country.

Although Ivan’s passage came with strong winds and high seas, it left little damage to the environment and infrastructure and most importantly no loss of lives. Most of the damage occurred on the northeastern end of the island, where some of the coastal areas were eroded.

Major hotels fared well including Young Island Resort on St. Vincent, Palm Island Resort, Petit St. Vincent Resort, Big Sand Hotel on Union Island and Raffles on Canouan. Most of the properties reported debris on their beach and minimal damage to their plant. In all instances, clean-up and restorative works have been completed and properties are fully functional with normal operations resuming. While electricity was suspended island-wide as a precautionary measure on September 7th, hotels were able to keep the lights on with their own generators, and electricity was fully restored on September 8th. The country’s water supply has also been fully restored and is totally portable for consumption.

Boats moored in the protected harbours of St. Vincent, Bequia, Mayreau, Union Island, Tobago Cays and Petit St. Vincent reported no damage, while air service resumed on Wednesday, September 8th from the E.T Joshua Airport on St. Vincent, and smaller airports in the Grenadines except the Union Island Airport, which was reopened on September 9th.

The main Cruise Terminal in Kingstown sustained no damage and is preparing to welcome ships calling for the 2004 – 2005 cruise season. The "Moorings," which is the international yachting company based on Canouan was also spared Ivan’s wrath and is also fully functional.

The local National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) has presented the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines with an estimate of EC$110 million dollars or approximately US$40 million dollars in overall damages sustained throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Subsequently the government has spared no effort in commencing the restorative work to infrastructure particularly roads and buildings. Teams from the Caribbean Development Bank and the World Bank have also visited the country to make their assessments.

It is fair to conclude that life in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is back to its normal pace following the passage of Hurricane Ivan. All schools, businesses, and government offices are fully functional, as are the various components of the tourism sector; with resorts, hotels, guesthouses, tour operators, yachting, sailing and diving companies fully operational and open for business as usual. The Government and people of St. Vincent and Grenadines continue to make every effort to ensure that our 32 islands and cays -- the "Jewels of the Caribbean" -- are safe, secure and prepared to welcome all our visitors.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ recovery efforts are well on the way and we wish to express sincere gratitude to all our neighbours and the international community who have assisted in this process.

TURKS & CAICOS

Represented by: Lindsey Musgrove, Director of Tourism

Following the series of hurricanes that struck the Caribbean, the Turks & Caicos Tourist Board reports minor damage from Hurricane Frances and Tropical Storm Jeanne, including minor flooding, downed power lines, and only minor structural damages with no loss to human life.

At present, Turks and Caicos is fully operational with all flights arriving and departing from Grand Turk and Providenciales. Hotels will also be reopening for business as follows: Turks and Caicos Club (October 1st), Point Grace (October 2nd), Beaches Resort (October 5th), Ocean Club Resort (October 28th), Meridian Club (November 1st). Fortunately, many hotels mentioned will not have a significant financial impact to business as annual temporary closures for improvements and repairs occur in the months of September and October.

Turks & Caicos’ Chief Minister, Honorable Michael Misick, comments, "We feel very fortunate that the storms did not have a great affect on our residents and guests. Our thoughts are with the hundreds of families in neighboring countries who have lost loved ones during this hurricane season."

In support of other islands that were severely affected by the hurricanes, the Turks & Caicos government has donated U.S. $200,000 to the Bahamas government to assist their hurricane victims. Additionally, the National Youth Day Committee orchestrated a telethon to benefit neighboring countries. The U.S. $50,000 raised will be distributed to victims in Grenada, Cayman and Jamaica.

About the Turks & Caicos

The 40 islands of the Turks & Caicos, of which eight are inhabited, are renowned for their award-winning beaches, diving and array of world-class resorts. There are three daily 75-minute direct flights from Miami, a US Airways direct flight from Charlotte, and weekly flights from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Toronto. For more information on travel, visit the Turks & Caicos Islands Tourist Board Web site at http://pull.xmr3.com/p/786-79C0/9499634/http-www.turksandcaicostourism.c...

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