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13 Sep 2017

BY Tom Parry & Gary Noakes

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Hurricane Irma: Tour operators pledge support for hurricane-hit islands

Caribbean specialist tour operators have pledged their support to a number of islands.

Irma path
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"We’re just heartbroken by what’s happened and feel like we need to do something positive"

Agents and operators moved quickly to rebook and relocate customers as Irma swept through the region, with the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, St Martin, St Barts, Turks and Caicos, and Barbuda among those hardest hit.


Paul Cleary, Caribtours managing director, said the operator would be donating £50 per future booking to the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund (set up by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association) to help aid the relief effort.


Cleary said Caribtours had been forced to put the islands most affected by Irma on “temporary stop sale” until the end of the year, and would rebook or refund holidays for around 70 clients due to travel.


“We’re just heartbroken by what’s happened and feel like we need to do something positive,” he told TTG.


“We have been through this before with [Hurricane Ivan hitting] Grenada in 2004, which while it was devastating for the island, our wider Caribbean business managed to stay strong. It’s up to tour operators to be promoting the Caribbean more than ever.”


OTA Blue Bay Travel said it had set-up an action team and support line to assist affected clients across the Caribbean region.


Chief executive Stuart Wilson said the company would be creating a donation page to the British Red Cross Hurricane Irma Appeal and hosting a Caribbean Day at its headquarters.


“Some of the more affected areas have seen a small decline in sales, with non-affected islands continuing to perform well,” he said.


ITC Travel Group client relationship director Lee Marshall said the firm had not yet had any cancellations.

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