Virtuoso asked its members about the effect of recent storms. // © 2017 Getty Images
Virtuoso has released a new survey that details insights from the organization’s travel advisors on the impact of the recent unprecedented hurricane season. Sixty-two percent of advisors report having clients affected by Hurricane Irma; of those, 54 percent have rebooked travel plans for the Caribbean and Florida. A quarter of respondents noted that clients are not requesting Caribbean and Florida travel for the next one to six months, and 46 percent of advisors report that clients instead are seeking warm-weather destinations outside of the paths of hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Why It Matters:
While hurricanes Irma, Maria and Harvey have caused devastation to some parts of the Caribbean and many hotels and operators have temporarily shuttered, the best way to help support these areas will be to visit when doors reopen. Encourage clients to consider rebooking their Caribbean trips to help support these affected areas with tourism dollars.
- Eighty percent of respondents say that Hurricane Irma has had the greatest impact on bookings, spurring changes in both short- and long-term travel requests. Other advisors name hurricanes Maria and Harvey; ongoing terrorist attacks; and earthquakes in Mexico and Japan as events that also factor into bookings.
- Of the 46 percent of advisors who report that clients are now seeking warm-weather destinations outside of the paths of hurricanes Irma and Maria, 28 percent report an uptick in bookings to unaffected Caribbean islands such as St. Lucia, Aruba, Curacao, Jamaica, Barbados and Grand Cayman; 22 percent report shifts to Mexico; and others name Hawaii, Central America, South America, Europe, Southern California and other U.S. Southern states as requested destinations.
- For travelers who find themselves impacted by hurricanes or other natural disasters, Virtuoso advisors offer the following tips. Seventy-one percent recommend purchasing “cancel for any reason” travel insurance, as other policies may not include weather-related issues or natural disasters; 57 percent suggest avoiding travel to hurricane-prone areas from late August to late September, which is when the season can see the most activity; and other Virtuoso experts advise canceling plans to affected areas and rebooking elsewhere as early as possible. Advisors also point out that using an agent to book vacations creates a built-in safety net.
What They Are Saying:
“While the tourism loss caused by this year’s hurricane season will easily be hundreds of millions of dollars, it’s important to note that each day brings progress to areas affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria,” said Albert Herrera, senior vice president of global product partnerships for Virtuoso. “Some islands will require a longer rebuilding process, but others are on track to reopen their doors for the busy festive season and provide guests with the full island experience, complete with restaurants, shops and activities. For anyone who wishes to support these areas, the best thing they can do is visit when doors reopen. Tourism is the lifeblood for so many of these islands and their residents.”