Nick Wilkinson, vice president and managing director UK & Ireland and MEA for Norwegian Cruise Line, has urged the travel industry to continue to show support for the Caribbean following the devastating impacts of the recent hurricanes in the region.
Whilst select islands on the Eastern side of the region have seen significant impacts from the storms, more than 70% of destinations remain open for business.
The call out for support follows Norwegian Cruise Line Holding’s partnership with All Hands Volunteers (hands.org) and Happy Hearts Fund (happyheartsfund.org) to create the Hope Starts Here hurricane relief fund, setting a goal of raising $2.5 million, with the cruise company committing to match up to $1.25 million in donations to help reconstruct schools and critical infrastructure in the Caribbean.
Speaking of the industry’s responsibility to support the destination, Wilkinson said: “It is truly saddening to see the terrible impact that hurricanes Irma and Maria have had on a number of the Eastern Caribbean’s top tourist destinations. The economic impact during this period of recovery will be felt across the islands and it is our duty as an industry to show more support than ever to the region.
“The impact of these hurricanes have been felt on select islands in the Eastern Caribbean, which include our ports-of-call Tortola (BVI), St. Thomas (USVI) and St. Maarten.
He added: “We are working with our partners on the ground on the affected islands to provide assistance to ensure these spectacular destinations are up and running and ready to welcome guests again very soon.
“The good news is that San Juan, Puerto Rico, will resume as a home port in the next few weeks and the Western Caribbean continues to be open to tourists as normal, being largely unaffected by the devastation of this autumn’s hurricanes. We must ensure that we continue to encourage tourists to these islands in order to provide vital economic relief to the Caribbean as a whole.
“We must pull together and show our support in any way that we can and by doing what we do best, booking holidays and driving tourism.”