September 30th Update
Minister of tourism Manuel Marrero Cruz is quoted by the official Granma newspaper as saying Cuba will be ready for the high tourist season without a trace of Hurricane Irma. The minister met with 160 tour operators last week at Varadero’s Plaza América convention centre.
He said power, water, and communications were restored in 100 per cent of the country’s tourist resorts, including the northern Santa María, Coco and Guillermo keys, and that tourism facilities in the territories of Guantánamo, Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Cienfuegos, Mayabeque, Artemisa, and Pinar del Río, did not suffer any damage, and have been operating without any difficulties.
He described the damage suffered by facilities in Sancti Spíritus, especially in the north, Las Tunas, the northern coast of the province of Holguín, and Camagüey, as minor, while the damage in Havana and Varadero as minimal.
According to Granma, the minister said of the 18 hotels located on Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo, the latter of which suffered less damage, 14 will be fully recovered by 1 November, while the local airport will also be fully operational, and in better condition than before the hurricane struck. The remaining four hotel facilities will be completely restored to reopen their doors by 15 November.
The minister explained that all extra-hotel activities in Cayo Coco will be restored and back in operation between 15 and 20 October, including its marina, dolphinarium, glass tower, and beach huts, and that hotels on Cayo Santa María are expected to be fully operational by 15 November.
Of the 52 hotels in the country’s main tourist destination of Varadero, all except five are open, and the minister said: “By 30 October, there will not be a trace of the hurricane in Varadero.”
He reported a 50 per cent drop in arrivals in September due to the hurricane, but through 22 September, the country had received 3.6 million tourists, 24 per cent higher than the corresponding period last year.
Source: CTO POST HURRICANES CARIBBEAN UPDATE #1, Sept 30th
September 26th Update
Cuba set to have full power coverage by September 30
Over 99% of clients nationwide now have power following Hurricane Irma, reported Lázaro Guerra Hernández, technical director of the country’s Electrical Union (UE), speaking to Cubadebate; noting that works to reestablish power throughout the island should conclude by September 30.
“This has been possible thanks to the support we’ve had from the mixed brigades, which together with UE staff have worked non-stop over recent days. We are talking about 764 people who have been working every day across each of the most affected areas,” he stated.
Guerra highlighted that Villa Clara and Ciego de Ávila continue to suffer the worst damage, above all in coastal areas which were severely impacted by the hurricane.
“At this time, Camajuaní, Remedios, and Encrucijada are the most affected municipalities in Villa Clara. 191 UE workers are laboring there to restore power as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the municipalities of Chambas, Bolivia, and Ciro Redondo suffered the most damage in Ciego,” he explained.
Despite the extent of damage, directors of the Electrical Union assured that work in the affected provinces should conclude by September 30.
“However, let us state that once repairs are completed, some problems to services could persist – which will be resolved by brigades from each province – as strong winds could have caused shorts in conductors,” stated the technical director.
Guerra went on to note that the Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric plant, the largest of its kind in the country and the most severely affected by Hurricane Irma, began to generate power on the evening of September 25.
“Remember, the generating facility has been out of operation causing some problems with electrical service. However, the start-up process will be initiated this Monday (September 25) evening or in the early hours of this Tuesday (September 26), putting the system in a better position to begin generating power,” he stated.
Hurricane Irma passed over the northern portion of Cuba. It has been reported that Havana has experienced major flooding, power has been knocked and widespread wind damage has impacted the area. Ten people have died in Cuba, according to state television reports issued on 11 September.
Individual Hotel Updates
Meliá Hotels International informs that its hotels in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Orlando and Miami are already 100% operational. In Cuba, the most important effects have occurred in the northern coast, mainly in Los Cayos. Customers from these areas who did not return to their countries of origin prior to the hurricane were promptly transferred to hotels in safer tourist centers and cities such as Camagüey, Varadero, Havana, Trinidad and Cienfuegos, with an impeccable implementation of evacuation protocols.
From Meliá Hotels International we want to emphasize the professionalism and commitment of our collaborators in all these destinations, and the excellent coordination exercised by the Authorities, to guarantee at all times the information, security, and maximum possible comfort of our clients and employees.