Hurricane Dean fails to dampen Caribbean spirit.jpg

Hurricane Dean fails to dampen Caribbean spirit

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Despite fearing the worst, tourism officials in Jamaica have urged holidaymakers not to put off plans to visit the island, saying hotels and resorts have escaped largely unscathed from Hurricane Dean.

The first hurricane of the season, at one stage graded Category Five, recently passed through the eastern Caribbean. Jamaica was expected to be severely damaged but the eye of the storm passed 50 miles south of the island, missing the popular resorts of Montego Bay, Runaway Bay and Ocho Rios.

Montego Bay and Kingston airports reopened on Monday and Tuesday respectively, and British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Thomson resumed flights to the island. Only one hotel, Jake’s, on the south coast, was forced to shut as a result of hurricane damage. All other hotels said there had been little or no damage.

Elizabeth Fox, director of tourism for Jamaica, said: “The flights are now going out full, which shows the resilience of British holidaymakers, and I would urge people not to be put off travelling to the island. Crucially, there was not much rain, so we didn’t get the mudslides that you often see with hurricanes. We fared pretty well: all the hotels are operating as normal and the weather is good.” Ms Fox said there was a small amount of damage to the infrastructure in Kingston, but hotels in the city were unaffected.

Tourist areas in Mexico and other Caribbean islands also escaped the full force of Hurricane Dean. In Dominica, the hurricane caused only minimal damage to roads and crops. Martinique’s hotel infrastructure was unscathed and no properties were closed. There was minor damage to some buildings on the island.

Tourism officials from St Lucia said Hurricane Dean passed by the north of the island as a Category Two storm. Maria Fowell, the director of tourism for St Lucia, said hotels were operating as normal and all roads affected by landslides had been cleared and were passable.

However, before you snap up that bargain Caribbean break, be aware that there is no indication yet when the next hurricane will strike. The season normally runs from June to November. Remember though that the weather will clear up in time for the festive season. Anyone for a Caribbean Christmas?

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