HURRICANES AND THE SLOW TOURISM SEASON

anguillian
By anguillian October 23, 2017 11:03

 

 

 

The question has long been asked: “How come there is a slow tourism season in Anguilla – when hotels, villas, and the main restaurants are closed – while in other regional islands they are open?” A supplementary question is: “Are hurricanes partly to blame?”

In Anguilla, hospitality workers, hotel and villa operators, restauranteurs and even visitors, appear to have become accustomed to this close down. The high season generally runs for about five to six months from November to April, then tapers off down to about August.

The Anguillian asked the President of the Anguilla Hotel and

Tourism Association, Mr. Delroy Lake, and the Vice President, Mrs. Janine Edwards, for their views. This is what they said:

Mrs. Edwards: “I am not sure about the origins of why Anguilla closes down for those two months (September and October). However, most people use that time for maintenance and some people speak about hurricanes because, obviously, there are a lot less guests from our source markets who want to come then. I am not sure whether it is purely a financial decision, a hurricane decisio

n or whether it is time to regroup in an industry where people work so hard.

“But from the AHTA, we have been encouraging more and more properties and restaurants to try and remain open – at least enough that w

e can keep our tourism going. So from our end, we do want to see a 12-month industry. However, it may not be practical in all cases. But I think that some of our properties have stepped up to that challenge. I think Zemi Beach was going to operate all-year round. Are there an

y others? Paradise Cove never closes and a number of

villas, including our villas, never close. I think there is a

will. It is just to get there. I think it is the goal of the island to have us open all year round, but we will reach there step by step – property by property will put themselves forward.”

Mr. Delroy Lake: “I think that the aim of the Hotel Associa

tion – and this was discussed within weeks prior to Hurric

ane Irma – was at least to start to move to a 12-month season in 2018.
“Just to speak to the origins of how we got the two months

off.

 

 

Prior to Hurricane Luis quite a few properties would remain open during the off season. I think that with Luis many properties were caught with guests in-house. Just like Irma, if you were caught with guests in-house during these conditions, it makes you start to rethink your strategy. Directly after Luis, many of the properties, with the exclusion of probably Paradise Cove, the Anguilla Great House, Lloyd’s Guest House, La Serena at the time, and probably one or two other small ones, continued to remain open. But the liability for a lot of the bigger properties is that if they can’t get their guests off [the island] and they are in-house during a major storm, there is some liability.

“Take for example St. Maarten: after Hurricane Irma, St. Maarten needed to move over six thousand tourists out of the island. It is a challenge. As a business owner, you start to rethink after each disaster. However, we would still like to see 12 months of tourism because tourism is the bread winner for many families on Anguilla. I would hasten to say that 65 percent of the workforce is directly engaged in tourism. If the hotels are not opened and doing business the other 35 percent would also suffer to some extent.

“I think there has to be a comprehensive plan not only as it relates to marketing, but in terms of impending disasters. For example, to this day there is no clear evacuation plan in case of a hurricane. If a hurricane is coming, no one seems to have found a way to ensure that we can move 300, 400, 500 people off the island. How do we get them off the island prior to a storm like this? Those are things that we need to work with – the logistics. If we can get all the logistics correct, we can probably and satisfactorily open hotels 12 months of a year. If you can’t get that done, then after every disaster you will have to rethink the situation.

“I will give you an example. After Hurricane Lenny I had about 12 guests in-house. The hotel was not damaged as Lenny was not the type of storm that damaged physical things, but there were lots of water. The generator at the hotel flooded and, for the time that people were there, you were literally dipping water out of the cistern to flush toilets; and at nights there was a lamp light. That becomes a challenge so it has to be said that there is a major storm coming and if it is above a certain category everybody should leave the hotels and we should find a way to get the guests off the island. To this date, we haven’t successfully done that.”

anguillian
By anguillian October 23, 2017 11:03

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