Hurricanes Threaten Caribbean Tourism

The wild and busy 2017 hurricane season could end up claiming another casualty---winter tourism.  While Galveston was spared major damage from Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma was not so kind to many tourist destinations in the Caribbean.  In particular, the popular vacation islands of St. Martin and Barbuda suffered mass devastation from the powerful storm, leaving months of recovery and rebuilding ahead in what would normally be their busiest tourism season.  "If the damage isn't too bad on a certain island, maybe they'll be recovered by then...others, they could take a while, and there's no real clear timelines right now," says Sarah Schlichter, senior editor with Smarter Travel.

In particular, Caribbean cruise lines could see a major impact from the storms.  Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines all cancelled several Caribbean cruises in recent days, and more of those cancellations could be on the way.  "Cruise lines are either cancelling or rerouting many of their itineraries, and so passengers are getting usually either a full refund and/or credit toward future cruises," says Schlichter.

Another issue for those planning a Caribbean getaway is that hurricane season is far from over.  Indeed, Category 3 Hurricane Jose is currently churning through the Atlantic threatening some of the same islands impacted by Irma.  Schlicter says there are options for travelers during the hurricane season.  "Generally, people recommend the southern Caribbean islands, the ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, which tend to be out of the range of most hurricanes," she says.

Above all, Schlichter advises protecting yourself ahead of time when planning any travel to a tropical destination.  "We always recommend trip insurance if you're travelling this time of year, especially if you're putting a lot of money down up front toward your vacation," she says.

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