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Signs Of Tourism Recovery Two Years After 9/11

Local Hoteliers Predict Travelers Will Be Less Wary About Anniversary This Year


September 11, 2003
Copyright © 2003 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

As the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks approaches, the tourism industry is still smarting from the economic devastation.

"People haven’t forgotten 9/11," said Mark Lunt, a travel analyst with Ernst & Young in Miami. "Travel demand in the U.S. and the Caribbean still isn’t back to 2000 levels; it’ll probably take another year."

Local hoteliers interviewed by CARIBBEAN BUSINESS said the heightened fear of travel around that fateful date won’t last as long as it did last year. "Our phones slowed down until mid-October after the first-year anniversary of the attacks," said Richard Cortese, vice president of Wyndham Resorts in the Caribbean.

Willem Pleight, general manager of InterContinental San Juan Hotel, believes there is a lingering sense of uncertainty, but it won’t have a major impact on business. "It’s going to be one of those days that whatever you plan, you analyze in the back of your mind if it’s the appropriate thing to do," he said. "However, we have a good [large] business meeting booked on Sept. 11 and the Montreal Expos’ Major League Baseball series ends on that date, which has attracted visitors to the island."

Over at the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, there will be a moment of silence to honor a former associate who was a victim of the attacks in New York.

"Marriott will commemorate the loss of a colleague; we have some associates that worked at the World Trade Center Marriott hotel are now at the San Juan Marriott," said Ed Towfighnia, general manager of the San Juan Marriott. "Hotel reservations for the week of Sept. 11 are about on a par with reservations at other times of the year; that’s why I don’t think we’ve been affected that much."

According to the Puerto Rico Tourism Co., the island’s hotel occupancy last September was 49.7%, up from 41.5% in September 2001. Total hotel registrations increased from 95,734 to 123,556 during the same period.

Vigimaris Nadal, spokeswoman for American Airlines in San Juan, said she expects business as usual on the second anniversary of 9/11. The carrier has 42 daily flights out of Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in September. "There is still some apprehension…but travel seems to be moving swiftly," said Rick Newman, president of the Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association. "Hotels had a great July and August, cruise ships had a fairly good summer, and there’s no indication things are going to change."

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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