Health & Medical

Islands of the Caribbean: Safety First

Reading time: 3 minutes

From 2015-2016, 10.2 million international visits were made by Australians to the Caribbean, according to the Australian High Commission. However, with the worst Atlantic hurricane season on record hitting the Caribbean’s 7,000 islands, connotations of sun, sand and clear blue skies have been put to one side in many countries.

If you have a trip to the Caribbean booked in the coming months, here’s everything you need to know about travelling to some of the main countries.

Antigua and Barbuda

Hurricane season runs from May to November in the Caribbean and this year, September brought the strongest Atlantic hurricane in history – Irma.

Hurricane Irma was closely followed by Hurricane Jose and together, both battered the island of Barbuda. Buildings were destroyed and the entire island has become uninhabitable for the first time in 300 years. Neighbouring island Antigua, which wasn’t as badly hit, has welcomed the evacuees of Barbuda, with relief being sent to those affected.

Antigua and its aiport is open for business. However, tourists with trips booked to the island are advised to speak to local authorities and tour operators before departing. Travel insurance is also heavily advised. Travel to Barbuda is not advised until rebuilding is complete.

For the latest updates visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/antigua-and-barbuda.

Dominican Republic and Haiti

Hurricane Maria passed through the Dominican Republic towards the end of September, causing flooding and damage to some areas of the island. Thankfully, there was no serious impact and airports and tourist attractions remain open. However, before departing Australia, tourists should seek advice from travel operators and stay up to date via the media.

Haiti experienced some flooding and mild infrastructure damage during Hurricane Irma. The island is still recovering from Hurricane Matthew that hit in 2016 and combined with the impact from Irma, tourists should reconsider travel plans. Speak to tour operators and keep up to date on news before entering the country.

For the latest updates visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/dominican-republic and https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/haiti

British Virgin Islands

Due to devastating damage from Hurricane Irma, Maria and Jose, all travel to the British Virgin Islands should be cancelled, unless essential. There is widespread damage throughout all islands, affecting infrastructure, homes, tourism and power. Access to food, water and medical supplies are also low.

Be sure to visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/british-virgin-islands to stay up to date with news and updates.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico was badly hit by Hurricane Irma, leaving the island’s 3.5 million inhabitants without power. Winds picked up speeds in excess of 250 kilometres per hour, battering homes and buildings throughout.

Travel to Puerto Rico has been advised against, until the island has recovered from the traumatising events. Visit http://puertoriconow.seepuertorico.com/ for updates and local government websites.

Turks and Caicos Islands

Following the passing of Hurricane Irma and Maria, the Turks and Caicos Islands are making a speedy recovery from the mild impact. Water and power have been restored and debris has been cleared.

Travel to everywhere except the Island of Grand Turk has returned to normal.

The Airport has re-opened and visitors are able to enter, however, travel plans should be discussed before departing.

For the latest updates visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/turks-and-caicos-islands.

US Virgin Islands

The US Virgin Islands battled with category 5 hurricanes, Irma and Maria, leading to loss of power, devastated buildings and leaving many without shelter. However, slowly but surely both water and power is making its way back to the islands, with transport promising to resume from late October.

For the latest updates visit http://www.usviupdate.com/.

Saint Martin/Maarten, Anguilla and St Barts

Anguilla was severely impacted by Hurricane Irma and Maria, with major tourist resorts bearing the brunt of the forceful winds. Aid has been sent to the island and travel plans should be consulted with a tour operator.

Both the French and Dutch regions of Saint Martin were heavily impacted by Hurricane Irma and Maria in September as well as St Barts. Many buildings were destroyed and locals left without accommodation, food and water. Travelling to the island is not permitted.

For the latest updates visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/anguilla and https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/st-maarten.

Information current as of October 19, 2017. Please with the relevant government websites for the latest updates.


Author

TID is an Australian online travel insurance company.

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