As the Caribbean begins to dry out from Gustav's wind and rain, it appears that the tourism sector is pretty much intact.
Officials are keeping a wary eye on Tropical Storm Hanna, now over the Bahamas, and Tropical Storm Ike, forecast to become a hurricane by Wednesday. Josephine is moving westward across the Atlantic but poses no threat as yet.
The Jamaica Tourist Board reported "business as usual" for tourism entities. The Kingston and Montego Bay airports are open; 92% of the power has been restored except in the far eastern parishes of Portland, St. Mary, St. Catherine and St. Thomas; water and telephone services were not disrupted in most resort areas; and no structural damage to hotels has been reported. Major road repair is set to begin as soon as possible.
The Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort, Rose Hall reported minimal damage and is fully operational, according to Bernd Kuhlen, general manager. The same held true for Sandals’ seven resorts in Jamaica.
Due to airport closures and delays last weekend, Sandals offered one free night for all guests scheduled to depart on Aug. 28 and Aug. 29. Travelers still experiencing delays on Aug. 30 were able to extend their stay at a discounted rate.
Sunset Resorts' three Jamaica properties in Montego Bay, Negril and Ocho Rios had minimal landscaping damage. All are open and receiving guests. The properties activated their hurricane-preparedness plans as soon as the Gustav threat was announced.
"Our guests and staff weathered the storm safely," said Ian Kerr, managing director.
Most resorts had hurricane guarantees to protect guests at the property as well as those who were scheduled to arrive during the storm. Jamaica Inn's policy, for example, offers a free replacement vacation in the event that a hurricane disrupts the use of all included services. Te offer, valid for the same duration and same room category as the original booking, is good for one year.
The Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman bore the brunt of Gustav, sparing Grand Cayman. Damage included the main dock at the 40-room Cayman Brac Reef Resort and several other docks on the island as well as power outages, water, roof and structural damage on both islands.
Grand Cayman, which was slammed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, escaped with some downed utility poles.
Hanna and Ike were still concerns for the Bahamas on Tuesday, although tourism officials said that very few tourists had evacuated. The Bahamas Hotel Association's hurricane cancellation policy covers most of the hotels and resorts in the islands.