By F. Martin
TTC Service.- 2017 would be for the Caribbean one of the year’s most destructive because of hurricanes but it has turned out to be the one Of surprising recoveries after the most severe storms impact in the region.
It is at least what regional governments and experts think now.
“For the first six months of 2017, data compiled by the Caribbean Tourism Organization show that the region welcomed 16.6 million international tourists or 800,000 more than in the first six months of 2016, constituting a growth rate of 5.2 percent,” Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said at a Caribbean meeting last week.
Bartlett added the number will increase since the region was tracking for an uptick in arrivals by next week.
“We are already on track to surpass last year’s historic growth rate of four percent or 3.84 million visitors in total. We welcomed over 3.3 million visitors in the first nine months of 2017 and we expect total arrivals to surpass four million by the first week of December,” Bartlett, one of the most important personalities of the Caribbean in the tourism industry said.
“Despite the multi-faceted challenges confronting the region, Caribbean tourism continues to grow at record pace”, he added.
That happens in a year which thirteen of the most tourism-dependent countries – St. Martin, Anguilla, Dominica, Barbuda, St. Barts, the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Turks & Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Cuba – were all affected by the storms.
According to London The Guardian In most of the 12 affected countries, including Antigua, St Kitts and Nevis, the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, recovery has been speedy and hotels are back up and running.
In Puerto Rico “the recovery effort continues. The main airport is operational and other airports have a limited service. According to the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, 72% of hotels are open”, the paper added.
The US Virgin Islands were hit by both hurricanes and damage on two of the three main islands (St Thomas and St John) was extensive. On St John, work to restore infrastructure and reopen the Virgin Islands national park has started.
Since last November Cuba is almost completely recovered and just receiving a record arrivals of tourists during the high tourism season.
The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season is already among the top 10 most active seasons on record. But the affected islands in the Caribbean are rebuilding, and slowly tourists are returning.
That is a great success of the region against adversity.