The Caribbean lost more than US$1 billion in tourism revenue after hurricanes discouraged visitors during the costliest storm season on record.
This was revealed by the head of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Joy Jilbrilu, who noted that recovery efforts could cost close to US$6 billion.
Powerful hurricanes Irma and Maria caused widespread devastation from the Caribbean to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands last September, but tourism suffered in even areas whose sandy beaches and resorts were unaffected by gusts and showers.
CTO president Jibrilu said that media coverage of the storms that toppled trees, tore away roofs and struck beaches with storm surges contributed to the perception that the entire region had suffered equally, prompting visitors to seek other vacation destinations.
Maria, a major hurricane, caused an estimated US$90 billion in damage to Puerto Rico prompted many residents to flee the island.
Irma, one of the deadliest Atlantic storms in a century, killed dozens and devastated housing, power supplies and communications in various parts of the Caribbean, leaving some small islands completely cut off from the world.
The World and Travel Tourism Council said in a report released in April that the hurricanes caused an estimated drop of 826,000 visitors to the Caribbean, compared with forecasts.
The report also said the recovery could take more than four years, costing the region another US$3 billion.