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Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz is optimistic that T&T will experience a “bumper Carnival,” despite the mass cancellations of flights caused by a major snowstorm in the United States. The storm, which was expected to hit the north-eastern parts of the continent late yesterday, grounded thousands of flights in New York and Boston.
Cadiz said an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 tourists who were heading to T&T could be trapped by the mix of snow, wind and sleet. Asked whether the storm could have a negative impact on T&T’s Carnival and foreign-exchange earnings, Cadiz said, “We understand that a number of flights have been affected. Flights may continue to be affected for the weekend, but I am not worried. I don’t know how we will make up for it, or if we can make it up.”
He estimated between 35,000 and 40,000 visitors come to T&T for Carnival each year. Noting that many had already arrived, Cadiz said there was no reason why T&T could not expect a bumper Carnival. “A lot of tourists have come in already...The hotels are all filled and I think the delays in New York may hamper the arrival of between 2,500 and 3,000 people,” he said.
He added that people in the cities of New York and Boston might have difficulty getting out. “It is not just the Caribbean Airlines flights coming out of New York, but also local flights like American Airlines flights leaving New York to go to Miami. It means people will have to either take a train or risk driving out,” Cadiz added.
However, he expressed optimism that things would turn out fine. “The weather will be affected today and tomorrow, but we still have some time,” Cadiz said. He also revealed that visitors spend over US$75 million in Carnival festivities. “This is a figure that is difficult to calculate, but based on the arrivals and the amount spent per person, we are looking at US$75 million.”
Cadiz wished all the Carnival contenders the best in the various competitions. He also assured the crime situation was under control. “The police are doing a fantastic job and I really want to commend them because they are out in all the cities and villages. The quality and standard of music is extremely good this year and I look forward to this successful bumper Carnival,” he said.
The New York Times reported yesterday that thousands of flights out of New York and Boston airports were grounded because of the storm. Officials were warning people to leave work and get off the roads. With hurricane-force winds, the Weather Service predicted flooding along the Atlantic coast that could affect up to eight million people.
Schools across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island dismissed students early yesterday in anticipation of the storm which is the result of two weather systems colliding, producing a powerful force. The Times reported that by today the total expected snowfall in New York City is expected to be between ten and 14 inches.