July 15, 2024

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Beryl: Jamaica reopens airports; “no wide-scale impact” to tourism, says Bartlett

Jamaica’s top tourism official says Hurricane Beryl has left the island’s tourism sector intact.

“Jamaica is open for business and, once again, the resilience of the Jamaican people is on full display,” said Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, in a statement Friday (July 5).  “We are grateful that there has been no wide-scale impact to our general tourism infrastructure and our tourism industry is fully operational. Our message to our partners and visitors is Jamaica is ready for you, so come back to the destination you love.”

After devastating the Windward Islands, Hurricane Beryl sideswiped Jamaica’s southern coast on Wednesday (July 3) as a Category Four storm, bringing heavy rains and 145 mph winds.

The fierce conditions ripped off the roofs of homes and knocked down power lines, leaving hundreds of thousands without power, local reports said.

Jamaica’s air & cruise ports reopen

Jamaica’s airports closed on Wednesday ahead of the storm’s arrival, and the facilities are now reopening, according to a press release issued by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).

  • Sangster International Airport (SIA) in Montego Bay reopened Thursday night (July 4) at 6 p.m. local time.
  • Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) in Kingston will re-open at 5:00 a.m. on Friday (July 5).
  • The Ian Fleming International Airport (IFIA) in Ocho Rios is currently open.

Jamaica’s cruise ports (Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Falmouth) have also resumed operations, the CTO said.

As PAX previously reported, several cruise lines this week altered their itineraries to keep a safe distance from the storm. 

Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. (Shutterstock/Debbie Ann Powell)

Visitors are advised to contact their travel advisor and airline provider for updates before arriving at the airports.

Donovan White, director of tourism for the Jamaica Tourist Board, encouraged tourism industry partners across the world to spread the word that Jamaica is open. 

“We are ready, willing, and more than able to welcome our guests back to our beautiful island,” said White in a statement.

“No wide-scale impact” on tourism

Following the passage of Hurricane Beryl, which will hit Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on Friday, Minister Bartlett noted “while there have been some reports of fallen trees, debris, flooding and power outages, we are grateful that there has been no wide-scale impact to our general tourism infrastructure.”

READ MORE: Cruise ships change course as Beryl hammers the Caribbean

The Tourism Emergency Operations Centre (TEOC) reported that a limited number of tourists required relocation due to blocked roadways or due to precautionary measures, Jamaica’s Ministery of Tourism said in a press release.

“Thanks to the collaborative efforts of our TEOC team and tourism partners, visitors were safely relocated from one location to another,” Bartlett stated.

“We are also aware of isolated reports of property damage. Post-hurricane impact assessments are now underway and are being led by the Tourism Product Development Company’s product quality team, and we will have a clearer picture of the steps that will have to be taken to address any concerns in the coming days.”

Beryl’s destructive path

Prior to arriving in Jamaica, Beryl strengthened to a Category 5 storm – the earliest Category 5 on record in the Atlantic – as it raged through the open waters of the Caribbean.

On Monday, the storm made landfall on Carriacou, an island that is part of Grenada, as well as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Grenada, for one, was left with “unimaginable” destruction from the storm, Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell said. Officials said 98 per cent of buildings in the nation of 6,000 had been damaged or destroyed.

Beryl is forecast to make landfall in a sparsely populated area south of Tulum in the early hours of Friday as a Category 2 storm.

But there’s a chance the system will remain a major hurricane, with potential to hit southern Texas and Louisiana over the weekend, according to the U.S. National Weather Service.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has warned that the North Atlantic could get as many as seven major hurricanes this year – up from an average of three in a season.

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