BRIDGETOWN AND FORT LAUDERDALE — The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) are standing in solidarity with Caribbean islands that have been devastated by Hurricane Fiona in recent days.
Fiona, which hit Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos and the Dominican Republic as a Category 3 storm earlier this week, has now strengthened into a Category 4 storm and is forecast to squeeze past Bermuda later this week.
In its devastating wake, CTO Chairman Kenneth Bryan, on behalf of his Ministerial Colleagues, offered his thoughts and prayers to “our brothers and sisters across the Caribbean who are being impacted by the ravages of Hurricane Fiona.”
His statement continued: “I sincerely hope that you, your loved ones and colleagues are safe and secure. I recognize that the needs of your family, friends and communities are your top concern right now, and I want you to know that the CTO stands ready to assist in whatever ways we can, if and when you need us in the weeks to come.”
Bryan noted at as islands situated in the Caribbean’s hurricane belt, “we have all faced the impact of tropical storms and hurricanes and can relate to what you are going through.” But he also offered hope for the future, adding: “With our strong faith and commitment to one another’s well being, we will get through this. As a region, we have strength in our collective support systems and those of us who are unaffected by Hurricane Fiona stand ready to help our regional neighbours who are in need.”
The CHTA voiced similar support, extending its prayers to those who have been impacted, including the island of Guadeloupe, and others in the storm’s path. But the organization was quick to note that Puerto Rico, where the storm initially made landfall, is already on its way back to recovery with the reopening of its main airport in San Juan, Luis Muñoz Airport.
“We have full confidence in the ability of the people of Puerto Rico to restore normalcy in their beautiful territory,” said the CHTA in a statement.
The CHTA is also reminding travellers that many destinations in the Caribbean remain open for business: “While a small part of the Caribbean has been directly affected by the storm, most of the region’s 30 destinations have not been impacted and we anticipate those which have will be welcoming visitors in the coming days.”
The organization said it also remains committed to hosting both the inaugural CHTA Caribbean Travel Forum and the 40th Caribbean Travel Marketplace in San Juan from Oct. 3-5.
Hurricane Fiona has so far been blamed for directly causing at least four deaths in its march through the Caribbean. According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center, Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 130 mph on Wednesday morning and was centered about 700 miles southwest of Bermuda, heading north at 8 mph. It is likely to approach Bermuda late Thursday or Friday before heading to Canada’s Atlantic provinces on Saturday.