Mother nature is showing no mercy in the Caribbean with Hurricane Irma. This is causing many changes and alterations to occur in the travel industry. Several cruise lines, tour operators and tourist boards have released statements on what they are doing during this time to help your clients.
Here is what some members of the travel community are doing:
[UPDATED AS OF SEPTEMBER 8]
BAHIA PRINCIPE HOTELS & RESORTS
On September 7 at 6pm EST, Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts released a statement via their twitter account stating that their Bahia Principe La Romana Resort and Bahia Principe Bavaro Resort are gradually reestablishing normality. They will continue to apply the Security and Warning Protocol.
The resort chain also released the following tweet regarding Grand Bahia Principe San Juan:
🇬🇧 UPDATE Irma | We announce we are gradually reestablishing facilities in #GrandBahiaPrincipeSanJuan THANKS guests & staff.
— BahiaPrincipe (@BahiaPrincipe) September 7, 2017
According to AMResorts all evacuated guests are being transported back to their rooms with the final group returning tomorrow afternoon. Properties in Dominican Republic received minor damage and are operating normally. Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) received no damage and is open. Puerto Plata Gregorio Luperon Airport (POP) is closed with plans to reopen Sept 9.
Sonesta Maho Beach Resort Casino & Spa, Sonesta Ocean Point Resort and Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort & Casino located on St Maarten are safe and unharmed according to a statement they released. Damages to the resorts and Princess Juliana International Airport are severe. They are currently doing the best to keep guests safe and comfortable. They are currently residing in a on-property safe area at the resorts.
Due to the resort damages sustained they have cancelled reservations from now through the end of 2017 and all pre-paid reservations scheduled for this period will be refunded as soon as operations are restored, pending future updates and situation assessment. All other reservations will be treated according to the cancellation policy.
According to Barcelo’s last update for Hurricane Irma, their hotels & resorts are running normally and most are not found in the alerted red zone.
According to the resort chain, no reports of guests or Team Members are affected by the storm in Puerto Rico. The resorts remain free of significant damage and are focused on returning to regular operations.
Due to travel difficulties which may result in cancellations, Hilton properties located in the Caribbean and Florida are waiving cancellation penalties for stays and advance purchase with arrivals schduled for Sept 5-12 regardless of travel destination.
As of September 7 at 8pm EST, Majestic Resorts stated no major damage occurred to their facilities.
Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat have all sent planes to the Caribbean to bring passengers home. As reported by Travelweek Group, the following planes have been dispatched:
• Air Transat: 10 aircrafts to Dominican Republic (7 to Punta Cana, 2 to Puerto Plata and 1 to Samana) and 10 to Cuba.
• WestJet: 5 to the Caribbean, 3 to Punta Cana, 1 to Puerto Plata and 1 to Turks & Caicos
Many of these airlines have cancelled flights to affected areas and are contacting clients to notify them on what they can do.
They have waived all change/cancel fees for impacted destinations for travel between September 5-11, 2017.
Agents do not need to call to receive a waiver code to change the fee for their clients. They can use *IRMA0917* in the endorsement field.
For WestJet Agent (TA Web) bookings and WestJet Vacation bookings: for SIREV/Revnet/Contact centre bookings, for clients that are impacted and wish to either cancel or exchange their ticket without a change fee, contact the Travel Support Team at 1-877-664-3205.
Hola Sun currently has their hurricane policy in place and has cancelled flights from September 8-10. Hurricane Policy details can be found here.
They are also evacuating all passengers that are currently in destination. All Representatives in destination have been notified and will be in contact with passengers. Hola Sun is working as quickly as possible with their airline partner Cubana to ensure that all passengers return to Canada safely and quickly.
Here are the latest information on the flights of passengers in destination.
Destination – Departure date (estimated time of arrival in Canada):
• Cayo Santa Maria – Thursday Sep 7 (afternoon) – Arrived
• Holguin – Toronto: Thursday Sep 7 (late afternoon)
• Havana/Santiago de Cuba – Thursday Sep 7 (evening)
• Cayo Coco – Toronto: Friday Sep 8 (early morning)
• Cayo Largo – Montreal – Toronto: Friday Sep 8 (TBA)
• Varadero – Friday Sep 8 (TBA)
Due to Hurricane Irma Hola Sun is evacuating all passengers that are currently in Cuba. Check the Toronto Pearson website for arrival times. pic.twitter.com/Lzi0aAeVXB
— Hola Sun Holidays (@HolaSunHolidays) September 7, 2017
As of September 6, Sunwing reported they sent in 12 unscheduled flights to bring clients home from affected destinations. They have extended their hurricane policy to those scheduled to travel southbound to any of the affected areas between September 6 – 10. According to their statement they are providing the option to rebook or change their destination. The hurricane policy applies to the following destinations:
• St Maarten/St Martin
• Dominican Republic
• The Island of the Bahamas
TOURISM BOARDS & ORGANIZATIONS
TICO sent a reminder of the responsibilities that organizations have under the Regulation pursuant to the Travel Industry Act, 2002. To view the message visit tico.ca
CARIBBEAN HOTEL AND TOURISM ASSOCIATION
The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) released a statement on September 7 expressing their sympathy to those affect by Hurricane Irma and are advising those in the Caribbean to take precautions as Irma continues to move. CHTA provided the following update on what is happening in the Caribbean:
• According to reports, widespread damage has been sustained in St. Maarten/St. Martin, St. Barthélemy (St. Barts), and Barbuda.
• Antigua was spared Irma’s brunt and the V.C. Bird International Airport is now open.
• The storm passed to the north of St. Kitts and Nevis.
— St. Kitts Tourism (@StKittsTourism) September 6, 2017
• Casualties on Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Barts and Barbuda, have been reported at this time; electricity and communications are down on several islands and the full extent of the damage is not yet known. Resorts throughout the affected areas in the region, including those on nearby islands in Irma’s projected path, have instituted emergency hurricane protocols.
• All hurricane warnings have now been discontinued for Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Saba, St. Barthélemy, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Maarten/St. Martin, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
• Officials in countries and territories in the southern and western Caribbean not impacted by Hurricane Irma have expressed their concern and support to the affected areas.
• As of Thursday at 8 a.m. AST, Irma was moving west-northwest off the northern coast of Hispaniola, heading for the Turks and Caicos Islands.
• A hurricane warning is in effect for the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and The Bahamas. Updates and advisories for Hurricane Irma are available from the National Hurricane Center website.
— CHTA (@CHTAfeeds) September 7, 2017
For more information and updates from CHTA visit caribbeanhotelandtourism.com
Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, MSC Cruises and Disney Cruise Line have cancelled and altered several of their sailings due to Irma. For a complete overview of what they are doing, visit shipsahoy.com