Hurricane Irma

Tour operators tell German customers to stay away from the Caribbean

German holidaymakers are being warned not to fly to major Caribbean destinations this week as Hurricane Irma sweeps across the region.

September 07, 2017
Hurricane Irma is heading for major tourist destinations
Photo: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

Tourists and residents are being evacuated from some islands and coastal regions as the strongest-ever recorded hurricane in the Caribbean heads towards major destinations such as the Dominican Republic, Cuba, the Bahamas and Florida. For example, the Dominican Republic’s Samana peninsula and the Cuban island of Cayo Santa Maria have been fully evacuated.

In the first major evacuation, Canadian airline Transat flew all its passengers in the Dominican Republic home on special flights yesterday and plans to evacuate all passengers on Cuba today.

In Germany, major tour operators are advising customers not to fly out to the Caribbean at present and are offering free cancellations or re-bookings to alternative destinations.

TUI said that it “urgently advises all German holidaymakers” against travelling to destinations such as the Dominican Republic, Cuba, the Bahamas or Florida “in the next few days”. About 100 customers were affected yesterday. Today’s flights to the Dominican Republic will be postponed by 24 hours and to Cuba by 48 hours.

The tour operator is now offering free cancellations or re-bookings for bookings to the Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Bahamas (up to September 10) and free cancellations of Florida departures (up to September 12). DER Touristik has a similar offer for departures until Saturday (September 9) and Thomas Cook until Sunday (September 10), including for Florida.

Germany’s largest tour operator stressed that all its customers in the region are safe, with some having been moved to safer accommodation. “TUI is in permanent contact with its local representatives and the authorities,” it underlined. However, it was too early to say what impact Hurricane Irma might have on south-west Florida and the Florida Keys, where tourists have been evacuated.

German airlines are also being affected by Hurricane Irma. Eurowings said this morning that its flights would be impacted in the next few days. It offered all passengers booked to Havana, Varadero, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Miami and Orlando the option of re-booking free of charge to departures between September 12 and October 12 instead.

The German travel association (DRV) emphasised the ‘hurricane season’ is the low season for travel to the Caribbean. There are currently about 5,500 tour operator customers in the Dominican Republic compared to about 12,000 at any one time during the peak season.

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