What to do if Hurricane Irma damaged a place where you booked a vacation
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Wednesday, September 13, 2017 10:15AM EDT
Thousands of Canadians flock to sunny vacation destinations in the U.S. and Caribbean every winter to escape the cold, but Hurricane Irma has left several of hotels and resorts with significant damage, according to travel planning sources.
In Florida alone, annual vacation spending by Canadians amounts to over $3 billion, according to figures from Statistics Canada.
Risk modelling specialists AIR Worldwide expect Irma’s damage to insured property in the U.S. will range between US$20 billion and $40 billion, with damage in the Caribbean between $5 billion and $15 billion.
Despite the damage, some key Florida attractions are in relatively good shape. Walt Disney World’s theme parks reopened on Tuesday, according to the resort’s website. Disney’s water parks will not open until later this week. Universal Orlando Resort reported “relatively minor damage” to fences, trees, signs and facades. Its theme parks also reopened on Tuesday.
Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association CEO and Director General Frank Comito told CTV’s Your Morning that getting as much information as possible is essential if your travel plans intersect with Irma’s path of destruction.
Global Affairs currently advises Canadians to avoid travel to Florida, Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Maartin, and Antigua and Barbuda.
“Some of those destinations will be up and operational within a matter of weeks. Some are going to take much, much longer,” Comito said. “You want to determine what the status of your destination and hotel is.”
He said websites such as Caribbean Travel Update are good resources for damage reports on hotels, resorts, and tourist attractions. If your accommodations are listed as damaged or destroyed, he said the next step is to reach out to whomever you made your booking with.
“Typically you’ll have an opportunity to rebook the vacation,” Comito said. “If you can’t do that, chances are your hotel will allow you to . . . transfer your vacation to another area or basically see if you can secure a refund.”
He said travel insurance can help shoulder costs if you purchased a policy around the time of booking or shortly after, but most companies do not issue insurance after a storm has been named.
While Irma will undoubtedly impact the region’s annual influx of foreign travel dollars, booking a vacation post-Irma is still a viable option. Comito said less than 20 per cent of the Caribbean region’s total hotel room inventory has been affected by the storm.
“More than 75 per cent of the Caribbean was not severely impacted, and is very much open for business,” he said.
With files from The Associated Press