The major tourist areas of Cancun, Playa
del Carmen and Cozumel escaped relatively unscathed from the fury
of Hurricane Dean, which made landfall as a Category 5 storm near
Costa Maya and Majahual, about 225 miles south of Cancun.
The cruise port of
Costa Maya, however, was damaged by the storm, and the port
estimated it would remain closed for six to eight months for
southern edge passed through Belize's northern region when the
storm made landfall in Mexico, initial reports indicated minimal
damage in San Pedro and Caye Caulker and none in Belize
In Mexico, about
75,000 tourists evacuated the major coastal areas by air or moved
to more secure areas inland by car or charter buses, according to
the Mexico Tourism Board. Those who couldn't leave or chose not to
get out rode out the storm in their hotels or at the
By all accounts,
tourists and residents were evacuated in a more timely and
organized manner than during Hurricane Wilma, a Category 4 storm
that caused an estimated $2.6 billion in damages when it slammed
into Cancun in 2005.
extra flights as Dean approached, cruise ships were diverted and
hotels and ground operators stepped up their operations to move
visitors to properties outside the hurricane's path.
About half of the
infrastructure was damaged at Costa Maya, the Mexican cruise port
near the border of Belize where Dean made landfall, said Cesar
Lizarraga, Costa Maya's director of sales and marketing.
The port, which
includes three berths and an entertainment complex, said it hoped
to have cruise ships calling back at the port by mid-2008.
Officials at Costa Maya were meeting with cruise lines to
were mostly open for business and reported minimal damage. Resorts
in Cancun, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen that did sustain damage
reported mostly broken windows and blown sand.
del Sureste, the Mexican airport group that operates several of the
country's busiest airports, said that the Cancun, Cozumel and
Merida airports had resumed operations and were reporting minimal
or no damage.
Although it's too
early to estimate Dean's economic impact on Mexico's tourism
industry, up to $300 million in insured losses from the storm are
expected in Mexico, according to Risk Management Solutions, which
calculates hurricane damage for the insurance industry. By
comparison, Wilma caused $1.8 billion in insured losses, the
insurance company said.
In the Caribbean,
Martinique, Guadeloupe, Dominica and St. Lucia, the first islands
to experience Dean's intensity, escaped with minor damage to their
Hotels and airports
were open for business two days later, although the crops on those
islands did not fare as well. The south coasts of Haiti and the
Dominican Republic bore the brunt of Dean's rain and
to heed the government warnings to take shelter. Storm damage was
heaviest along the southeastern coast, although the airport in
Kingston reopened two days later, following Sangster Airport's
opening in Montego Bay a day after Dean hit.
Most hotels, golf
courses and attractions cleaned up and reopened quickly, including
properties in Kingston.
Jakes, an Island
Outpost cottage property in Treasure Beach in the south of Jamaica,
will reopen Sept. 28.
still out in many areas of the island, Jamaica's Electoral
Commission postponed the nation's Aug. 27 general elections until a
hurricane damage assessment is completed.
A wobble south by
Dean spared the Cayman Islands a direct hit.
contact the reporters who wrote this article, send e-mail to Jorge
Sidron at [email protected] or Gay Nagle Myers at [email protected].