WASHINGTON, D. C. (Thursday, October 12, 2017) –– It is a hurricane season for the history books. Travelers be well advised, the Caribbean is open for business despite last month’s hurricanes. Nevertheless, our thoughts and prayers are focused on Puerto Rico, where “three-quarters of the hospitals are operating on limited emergency power.” Fortunately, most Caribbean islands did not see major damage from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, making the region a top AAA recommend destination for fall and winter getaways.
“Travelers should also remember that Atlantic hurricane season continues through November 30,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public Affairs and Government Affairs. “It is also of paramount importance for anyone traveling during this time to heed the advice of travel experts and plan ahead for any unforeseen severe weather.”
“Tourist (stay-over) arrivals in the Caribbean have grown by 35.7 percent between 2006 and 2016 or at an average annual rate of 3.1 percent,” according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).
“The Caribbean remains home to some of the world’s most popular travel destinations,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing. “Vacationers, travel suppliers and the islands welcome guests to enjoy the relaxation, culture and recreation of the Caribbean.”
AAA experts recommend that travelers look to these popular Caribbean destinations, which sustained minimal or no damage, for their upcoming travels:
• Dominican Republic
• Saint Lucia
• St. Kitts & Nevis
• St. Vincent & The Grenadines
• The Cayman Islands
• Trinidad and Tobago
• Turks & Caicos
• St. Vincent & The Grenadines
Additionally, the Florida Keys have reopened to travelers ahead of schedule following Hurricane Irma, and Mexico saw little impact to its tourism infrastructure following two recent earthquakes and Hurricane Katia, which made landfall in the eastern part of the country.
“While recovery efforts are ongoing, we do not anticipate that the recent storms will have a long-term impact on the travel industry. As the islands work towards a full recovery, AAA shares our care and concern to everyone affected,” added Sutherland. “In addition to making a donation to the recovery charity of your choice, we also can help the Caribbean recover by stimulating their local economies, which rely heavily on travel and tourism.”
For anyone planning a trip during hurricane season (June 1 – November 30) or to a destination recently affected by a storm, AAA Travel experts offer the following tips:
• Work with a travel agent – A trusted travel agent can serve as the travelers’ advocate, helping them remain informed and assisting with any itinerary changes that need to be made in the event of a storm.
• Consider purchasing travel insurance – Travel insurance is designed to offer protection against sudden and unforeseen events, such as hurricanes. Typically, travelers must have purchased travel insurance prior to a storm being “named” to receive hurricane-related coverage benefits.
• Remain informed – Before, during and after a storm, travelers should check with their travel providers—including hotels, airlines, car rental companies, cruise lines, and tour operators—for the latest updates to itineraries or cancellation and rebooking policies.
• Be flexible and remember to pack your patience – In the event of a hurricane, travel plans may be disrupted, even for those not traveling to an affected area. For example, cruise ships often adjust their itineraries to avoid storms or help accommodate travelers on other routes.
• Share your plans – Before any international trip, enroll in the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This makes it easier for the nearest embassy or consulate to contact U.S. citizens in case of an emergency.
• Check for Diamonds – AAA’s professional inspectors conduct on-site evaluations of nearly 59,000 Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants across the Caribbean, United States, Canada and Mexico. If something goes wrong at one of these properties, AAA’s member relations team is available to help members resolve their concerns.
For more information or to begin planning a trip, visit AAA.com/Travel.
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and nearly 78,000 members in the District of Columbia. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit http://aaa.com