People in the Caribbean are preparing for what Hurricane Maria could bring, which could be another devastating blow to the region’s economy.
Tourism is a booming business, but travel professionals say after the damaged caused by Hurricane Irma, it could be several months before some islands can fully welcome tourists.
Now, travel agents are scrambling to adjust plans for trips that are months away.
“Some islands got hit harder than others, and as a result, some vacations that we were rerouting or reconfirming and booking are not just for this year, but actually into early spring and even into summer of next year,” said Bruce Frankel, president of The Mindful Traveler.
DeDe Cunningham was looking forward to a December cruise with her husband and their son.
“We had booked a trip on Norwegian Cruise Line in January 2017 and we were slated to go down to the British Virgin Islands, St. Thomas and Great Stirrup Cay,” she said.
After seeing the damage Hurricane Irma left behind, it became clear that a new plan would be a better option as Cunningham noticed that some cruise itineraries were changing.
“We decided to be proactive and cancel our cruise because we just didn’t feel that we were going to go to the islands that we needed to go to,” Cunningham said.
The family is taking a shorter trip to the Bahamas, but Cunningham is advising other travelers who are considering changing their plans not to drag their feet.
“When we rescheduled and decided to do a short five-day trip, we looked at it one evening and the next morning and hour by hour by hour, rooms were filling up so I don’t think we’re the only ones that were being proactive or changing their plans,” Cunningham said.
Frankel says for people who are flexible with their travel plans, sometimes changing the destination can be a good option because it may not change the experience.
Other locations may be able to offer the same or similar activities.
Frankel strongly advises that people review airline, cruise line and resort/hotel policies when it comes to natural disasters or canceling and rescheduling trips.
He also suggests investing in travel protection insurance.