The devastation unleashed by Hurricane Sandy is expected to reduce tourist inflows to Jamaica.
Analysts believe that the hurricane’s effects on the Northeast United States could have a devastating effect on Jamaica’s tourism industry, because the Northeast is Jamaica’s largest source market and a disruption of amenities in that part of the world would automatically have an impact on the fortunes of Jamaica. Forty percent of the business that is generated by the country’s tourism stakeholders comes from areas that include Boston, New York, Washington and Philadelphia, and all of these areas have been affected by the hurricane. Business analysts feel that tourism in Jamaica will become cheaper because of the lack of demand and a surge in cancellations.
The president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Evelyn Smith, said, ‘It is a situation that we are watching very closely, already some of our members are reporting that guests have not been able to travel to Jamaica. It’s our most important source market, in comparison to the Midwest, South and West Coast, and in recent years the Philadelphia gateway has been doing very well. And the hurricane is cutting right through that area.’
However hotel owners in the region are not speculating on how the hurricane will affect business in December. Even though Sandy is considered to be one of the biggest hurricanes to have hit the US, and even though the devastation has been huge, there is a reticence to speculate on the long-term affects on Christmas trade.
From Sunday afternoon, flights from New York to Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean were being cancelled.
By contrast, tourists who are already on the island have been forced to extend their stay because of the large-scale flight cancellations.