This time, the Dominican Republic was not “lucky” in the face of Hurricane Fiona. Although hundreds of people have been displaced and the number increases as the hours go by, apparently, the tourism sector, at an economic level, took the worst part.

“Look, in the province [Hato Mayor] tourist facilities were quite affected. There are two completely closed hotels”, he commented to the money the past president of the Ecotourism and Agribusiness cluster of the Hato Mayor province, Carmen Ligia Barceló, while she was still on an information gathering tour.

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The situation seems to be the same for other demarcations that received the direct impact of the atmospheric phenomenon. The Executive Power issued decree 537-22, by which the necessary procedures were declared an emergency to help the provinces most affected by Hurricane Fiona, such as La Altagracia, La Romana, El Seibo, Samaná, Hato Mayor, María Trinidad Sanchez, Duarte and Monte Plata.

Damage

The “real” picture looks less encouraging. “Because of the damage, it will take several months to repair. [Aun] there is another [hotel] which is still in flood”, expressed Barceló. Although he limited himself to reporting the damage without specifying establishments, he pointed out that there are still hotels with blocked access. “It will take a few days to open as well.”

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Certainly, the information contrasts with that given by the president of the Association of Hotels and Tourism of the Dominican Republic (Asonahores), Rafael Blanco Tejera, who reported that “the vast majority of hotel rooms are operating and it is reported that in most the hotels the infrastructure damage was minimal”

In that statement, it was indicated that the main impact was seen on light structures on the beaches, as well as fallen trees and bushes. But the panorama does not seem to be the same for all the affected provinces.

Due to the impact of Hurricane Fiona directly in the Dominican Republic, Playa Hotels & Resorts temporarily closed Sanctuary Cap Cana, Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana, and Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana until Friday, September 23, 2022.

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In Hato Mayor, although there is a hotel that affected 50% of the rooms, it is minor damage that in the next few days “I understand that they will be in operation.” Others did not have the same luck. “There is only one that had significant damage. It is not known when it will reopen, ”he lamented.

However, it reveals that “there was a total loss.” This is a restaurant in Cañita. “It had a dock that, due to the waves and the winds, is totally lost. In other words, its entire infrastructure. They will have to rebuild that part,” explained Barceló.

For their part, the hotels in the rural area were mostly evacuated, he says. “Although they did have between 50% – 70% occupancy, but the effects were minor, they managed it,” he clarified.

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Impact

As Barceló commented, “tourism is not just hotels”. After the passage of Fiona, the communication channels were affected. Both power lines and streets and bridges. The case of the Punta Cana – Macao Energy Consortium, SA (Cepm), its director, Roberto Herrero limited himself to explaining to the money that “everything is in order”, after it became known that the damage caused by the phenomenon and that they were working on restructuring the necessary infrastructure to restore the electrical service.

In the case of Hato Mayor, Barceló pointed out due to the conditions of the roads that communicate with the community, “tourism will be completely stopped for at least a few weeks” in which the roads are repaired.

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To date, at least 12 isolated communities and four affected bridges have been reported. Fiona’s passage, in short, sets its sights on tourism. The Caribbean relies more on this sector to sustain its livelihoods than almost any other region in the world.

Tourism often serves as the main industry or at least as a major source of foreign exchange. According to one study, an average hurricane translates into a 2% loss in tourist arrivals due to its devastation. That report also indicates that, in contrast, a very large event can cause up to a 20% reduction in arrivals in the region.

In other words, hurricanes can have considerable negative impacts on communities dependent on tourism. By custom, September is usually the month with the fewest number of tourists visiting the Dominican Republic. This is confirmed by figures for the arrival of foreigners in the last five years prior to the pandemic.

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An analysis by the money determined that this month is also the month with the greatest indecency of hurricanes the country has had in some 150 years. Between 1851 and 2021, about 140 hurricanes passed, and within the indicated period, September reports the largest number of cyclones that impacted the middle island with 52 atmospheric phenomena, equivalent to 37% of the total. August follows, with a record of 51 “strong” hurricanes for a percentage of 36.4%. In other words, the incidence of atmospheric phenomena has a certain relationship with the decrease in tourists in the national territory.