Irma was at one point the most powerful recorded storm in the open Atlantic and its hit on the tourism industry will be significant, although an exact figure is unclear.
Walt Disney World theme parks and Universal Orlando Resort have reopened in Orlando after Hurricane Irma hit Florida, while the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg planned to reopen Wednesday. But many other destinations in the state and the Caribbean affected by Irma and other storms remain off-limits to visitors, in some cases with extensive damage or power outages that will take days if not weeks to resolve.
Irma was at one point the most powerful recorded storm in the open Atlantic and its hit on the tourism industry will be significant, although an exact figure is still unclear.
Tourism accounts for 1.4 million jobs in the Sunshine State, where more than 112 million people visited last year and spent $109 billion. More than 7 million Americans visited the Caribbean last year, trailing only Europe as a top destination, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
AIR Worldwide estimates that Irma’s damage to insured property in the U.S. will range between $20 billion and $40 billion, with damage in the Caribbean between $5 billion and $15 billion. Other estimates go higher, and that only accounts for damage covered by private insurance.
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Here’s a snapshot of how the tourism industry is faring so far:
Universal Orlando Resort reported “relatively minor damage” to fences, trees, signs and facades as its theme parks reopened Tuesday. Its popular Halloween Horror Nights event will go on as scheduled Friday. Disney’s water parks won’t open till later this week but most other attractions are running.
The Dali Museum’s massive geodesic glass bubble, known as the Glass Enigma, “is fine,” but its “Wish Tree,” where visitors tie wishes written on their admission wristbands, was felled in the storm. Museum spokeswoman Kathy Greif said the museum hopes to restore the tree.
Florida Keys tourism spokesman Andy Newman said travelers should postpone trips there until “the destination is ready to receive visitors.” He said Key West’s famous “90 Miles to Cuba” marker is solid concrete and “ain’t going nowhere” but cleanup and restoring utilities, communications and other services will take time.
Impact in the Caribbean varied. Widespread damage…