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Tourist cancellation climbs as CAL resumes Toronto flights
Even though Caribbean Airlines resumed flights to Toronto yesterday after Hurricane Sandy’s battering of the US, travellers are still cancelling hotel reservations in T&T.
Although the number of cancellations has not been tabulated comprehensively, Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz said T&T is already feeling the indirect negative effects of Sandy’s wrath. Flights to New York have not resumed as the air traffic chaos is set to continue until Friday.
In an interview yesterday, Cadiz said: “Any situation like what has happened in the US and Jamaica will have some negative effect on our tourism, with people deciding not to travel or postponing their plans because of the situation. “This disruption creates problems for us. We have the travel airports all along the Eastern seaboard closing and that creates disruption in travels. These are the main airports and people who were planning to come out for vacation would have to cancel those plans and re-book.”
Asked to give feedback on cancellations, Cadiz added: “I haven’t heard anything from the local hotels as far as cancellations, but that will occur without a doubt.” As to whether T&T citizens will be flocking back home because of the US economic downturn, Cadiz said he did not think this would happen. “After the 2008 crash, whoever found themselves in problems would have come home already.”
Cadiz added that the T&T Government would offer assistance to the US and the Caribbean nations that were battered by the storm. Chairman of Caribbean Airlines Rabindra Moonan said a full flight of 154 passengers flew to Toronto yesterday. He explained that a review would be held today to discuss New York flights. On Monday, a 2.30 pm flight to Toronto, scheduled to carry 104 passengers, was cancelled because of the expanding hurricane. “Between Sunday and today, we cancelled all flights from Port-of-Spain, Kingston and Georgetown into New York.
That is about 16 flights to and from, and it would have involved 2,700 passengers,” Moonan said. “Right now we are continuing to monitor the situation to see when the JKF airport will be reopened. Because of the flooding at the airports they will have to test to see if the underground fuel supply has been contaminated. That will take time, we looking at the earliest on Thursday and that is dependent on reports we get back from management team at JFK.”
Meanwhile, several hotels in Port-of- Spain also reported cancellations of bookings. Communications manager of the Cascadia Hotel in St Ann’s Barry Bidaisee said they already had eight cancellations because of the hurricane. “We have another 12 reservations coming from the US but we haven’t had word yet on the status. Since we are heavily dependent on North American travel, any such event will have an impact on our occupancy levels at the hotel,” Bidaisee said.
He predicted more cancellations would be reported over the next four to six days. Communications manager of Amral’s Travel Nadine Thomassian said there had been no cancellations to New York and Toronto since the hurricane. “We cannot make changes to the itinerary until there is a change in the travel advisories. So far none came in as yet,” Thomassian said.
Revenue manager of Hilton Trinidad Imran Mohammed said ten cancellations were reported yesterday but only five were caused by Hurricane Sandy. Mohammed said the hurricane also had a positive impact because some guests were forced to stay in Trinidad because of the shutdown of travel.
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