Festive season sees Caribbean rebound strongly following Irma impact

Holiday travelers are escaping to the Caribbean, with hotels in most destinations not affected by this year’s hurricanes reporting occupancies in excess of 90 per cent over the holiday season, according to reports.

“More than 70 per cent of the Caribbean was not impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria and travelers are discovering the incredible diversity of destinations and offerings throughout the region, as they explore its many vacation options,” said Frank Comito, director general of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA).

The Association canvassed a number of the region’s destinations this week to see how they are faring for the holidays and into the first quarter of 2018, according to the London-based Breaking Travel News.

It said the results are encouraging, according to Comito, who reports that a sampling of the region’s 32 holiday destinations all pointed to a surge in holiday bookings, and most indicated that forward bookings into the first quarter of 2018 are equaling or surpassing 2017.

Several destinations reported that a number of their hotels anticipate being sold out over the Christmas and New Year’s period, Breaking Travel News said on Sunday.

It said Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Cancun, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and The Bahamas all reported strong bookings.

Comito expects that most of the other destinations, which were unaffected by the storms, are experiencing similar booking levels, according to Breaking Travel News.

It said Turks and Caicos Islands, which was one of the first hurricane-affected destinations to rebound, fully recovering and opening within weeks following the storms, is reporting occupancies in excess of 90 percent over the holidays and strong first quarter bookings.

Puerto Rico announced last week that it is open for business, with many of the hotels in the popular coastal stretch in and around San Juan up and running and thousands of restaurants now operating, Breaking Travel News said.

It said Comito advised prospective travelers that there is still an opportunity to book a last-minute quick escape to the region over the holidays, and into the first quarter.

“Now is a perfect time to visit and support the Caribbean and to see for yourselves how the resilience of our people offers travelers from around the world an exceptional experience — especially during this winter season and beyond,” Comito said.

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