by Alex Palmer | January 08, 2018
After a season of devastating hurricanes as well as economic and humanitarian struggles, the Caribbean is ready to turn the page. That was the message of the Caribbean Tourism Organization's (CTO) "New Year's Message" released on Dec. 28, 2017. In the statement, CTO Secretary General Hugh Riley offered an update on what visitors to the region can expect when visiting the region and emphasized that it is ready for a year of revitalization.
"Physically, we will recover," stated Riley. "Our Caribbean people are a resilient population. We will put the bricks and mortar back together and the hotels and vegetation will rise again and shine in the brilliant sunlight."

He emphasized that travelers visiting those destinations impacted by the storms can expect to see "various stages of the rebuild/recover effort" with some already back to full capability for winter and others soon to be there. However far along they may be in the recovery process, Riley stressed that all affected islands are prioritizing the security and safety of guests and staff in the effort and that all are aiming to "see a product that is rebuilt stronger, better, and even more attractive than ever before. That's the plan, however long it takes to deliver."

The recovery efforts throughout the Caribbean continue at a steady pace. In Puerto Rico, 122 of the 149 hotels endorsed by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company are open for business, as well as more than 4,000 restaurants and 100 attractions, with 70 flights arriving daily. The latest details and updates can be found here. The British Virgin Islands continues to rebuild, with many marinas reopening and charter operators announcing that they will be in service for the winter 2017/2018 season. The full list of properties and businesses open on each island is available here

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, where 70 percent of accommodation options were impacted, many properties have already reopened while others have plans to begin opening in phases beginning in spring 2018 (latest updates here). Airports and seaports have reopened, including flight service to St. Thomas and St. Croix, with St. Thomas welcoming its full schedule of cruise ships this month.

On St. Martin, devastated by Hurricane Irma, Grand Case International Airport has been open for months and many restaurants and attractions are back up and running (complete list here). On the Dutch side, St. Maarten, Princess Juliana International Airport reopened in October and a number of hotels are accepting reservations (see here for current list, which is regularly being updated).

Overall, Riley struck an optimistic note about 2018's potential for the region. He expressed gratitude that a majority of islands were not touched by the storms and continue to operate "business as usual." He highlighted the successes of 2017, including a greater focus on the Canadian market and continued efforts to attract U.S. and UK business.

The CTO has declared 2018 "The Year of Wellness and Rejuvenation in the Caribbean," and with that in mind, Riley emphasized the region's offerings, ranging from yoga retreats to beachfront workouts and more. He pointed out that as the region rebuilds and comes back better than ever, visitors can also see the destinations as a place for their own revitalization.

"It will be a time of rebirth for us and for those who come to share the joy of a Caribbean vacation experience," said Riley. "We look forward to 2018 with optimism and excitement."