While Hurricane Sandy brought misery to the northeast United States, it also is has an impact on the territory’s tourism industry.
For starters, several cruise ships had to cancel visits to St. Thomas. Tuesday, the V.I. Port Authority indicated the Carnival Miracle cruise ship canceled its Friday call to St. Thomas due to weather conditions associated with Hurricane Sandy.
Port Authority Director David Mapp said the Jewel of the Seas made a change in its itinerary as a result of the hurricane. The Port of New York is closed. Therefore, the ship is standing off until the weather improves to disembark passengers from a previous cruise. This situation will delay the ship's call to St. Thomas. The ship now plans to visit St. Thomas on Saturday instead of its previously scheduled arrival of Thursday.
The Norwegian Sun will be in port as scheduled on Saturday.
Although New York area airports, including John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International, were closed Tuesday, Port Authority spokesman Monifa Marrero said she had no reports of canceled flights into the territory.
V.I. Hotel and Tourism Association President Lisa Hamilton said hoteliers reported they had a few people stranded on St. Thomas because of canceled flights, but they have been able to leave. As for arrivals, Hamilton said there are only a handful of visitors who haven’t arrived as scheduled.
For the hoteliers, Hamilton said the bigger issue is the impact on vacations not yet booked. She said if potential visitors face long-term power outages and massive devastation, they might be unwilling to take a vacation.
“The concern is what the long-term effect is going to be,” she said.
In related news, Gov. John deJongh said the prayers of the people of the Virgin Islands are with the residents of states in the path of superstorm Sandy and in particular those who hail from the territory and the Caribbean region.
“Our thoughts are with those who reside in New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and the other states up and down the east coast of the United States who have felt the devastating effects of this storm … everything from rain, winds, snow and fire,” deJongh said.
He said many residents in the tri-state region and along the coast from Florida to New Jersey hail from the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean.
DeJongh and Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis had been in touch with the leaders of various civic organizations in the New York and Washington, D.C. areas and pledged to support the recovery effort as is needed.
“We in the territory are very familiar with the devastating effects of wind and rain storms and we know how these natural disasters can affect our daily lives. We pray for a speedy recovery by our resilient Caribbean people. Over the next few days, I am sure that, with the assistance being provided, those affected by this storm will begin to pull their lives together again,” deJongh said.