Insight Caribbean Insight Hurricane season comes to an end, but its impact is far from over By Gay Nagle Myers / November 27, 2017 Share 1 -- It's finally over, at least as far as the calendar of the National Hurricane Center is concerned. Nov. 30 marks the official end of the active six-month Atlantic hurricane season that spawned 17 named storms, from Arlene to Rina.Of the 17, 10 became hurricanes, and six of those were major events, Category 3 or higher.In the Caribbean, September was the cruelest month, marking the arrival of behemoths Irma and Maria, two Category 5 storms that left a trail of unprecedented destruction and devastation on seven island nations in particular.Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Puerto Rico, St. Barts, St. Maarten/Martin and the U.S. Virgin Islands all took catastrophic hits to their natural settings, properties and people.The painful recovery process for some of these countries could take years.According to the Economist, damage from Irma alone tallies up to $13 billion. While totals for the entire season are unclear, Puerto Rico Gov. Roberto Rosello's recent request for $94 billion in federal aid gives some sense of Maria's toll in the region.Another indication of the severity of this season is that tourism growth to the Caribbean region has been dramatically impacted by the storms.The region had originally forecast a growth rate between 2.5% and 3.5% this year over last. Now the forecast stands at 1% to 2%."The economic impact of the storms is significant. The Caribbean Development Bank predicts that every 1% reduction in tourist arrivals will cost $137 million in lost revenue," said Hugh Riley, CTO's secretary general."No doubt the hurricanes presented us with some major challenges, but we are determined to rebuild better and more sustainably."Riley reiterated the same message that has resonated for the past month from all tourism organizations, officials and their travel partners on the islands not impacted by the storms: "We are open for business, and we have an exciting product to offer."However, as more than half of Puerto Rico remains in the dark, as Virgin Islanders struggle to find cell service and roof tarps and residents of Dominica and Barbuda find they have no homes to return to, numbers and statistics fall flat.What's heartening is that two-thirds of travelers surveyed by Eric Mower & Associates, an independent marketing communications agency, said they plan to return this winter to destinations impacted by these disasters, bringing with them food, clothing and medical supplies to donate, while 20% said they'll roll up their sleeves and pitch in where needed and another 23% will donate money to the region through various organizations to help rebuild.The survey polled 1,000 people who had traveled to the affected islands within one year of when the storms hit.Those who remain uncertain about returning to their favorite resort, beach or island are mostly concerned about infrastructure problems, hotel and restaurant reopenings, visible damage and access to attractions and activities.