The areas of greatest concern, industry officials said, included Anguilla, the British and United States Virgin Islands, and St. Martin, all of which have robust tourism economies and suffered extensive damage.
It will be a long road for some, even years. An estimated 95 percent of the structures on the island of Barbuda were seriously damaged or destroyed. Entire stretches of St Martin and Anguilla are practically uninhabitable, not only because of the roofs peeled back like tin cans and porches smashed to splinters, but because of shortages of food and water.
An estimated 90 percent of the Saint Martin economy depends either directly or indirectly on tourism, said Jénovéfa Eche, who works in the Saint Martin tourism office in Paris. The destruction, she said, is estimated at $1.43 billion.
“This will take months, years before we are at all close to our normal appearance,” she said.
But before the rebuilding of the tourism industry could begin, officials said, there were many immediate emergencies to attend to, like restoring telephone and electricity service, providing safe drinking water and medical treatment. and reopening the port and the airport.
Barbuda, with about 100 hotel rooms, has been only a miniscule contributor to the region’s overall tourism economy. But the business people and workers who have depended on that trickle of tourists now face an uncertain future.
“All the hotels have been damaged significantly,” Trevor Walker, a former member of parliament, said Monday. “This is going to take years. We have to rebuild an island, rebuild an economy.”
In Cuba, the long-term implications could be even worse. The hardest hit parts of the islands contain a significant share of its tourist infrastructure and bring in precious foreign currency for the communist nation. Without that, the country loses one of its primary sources of income to purchase items on the global market, including the construction materials it will need to repair the damaged infrastructure.
The storm badly damaged dozens of hotels on Cayo Coco and Cayo Romero, small islands off the north coast of Cuba. The airport that served these islands was destroyed.
On Monday, President Raúl Castro recognized the importance of resorts to the Cuban economy, and promised they would be rebuilt before the start of the peak season, which runs from December to April. The target is ambitious, but with Venezuela, the island’s main economic partner, wracked by its own crises, Cuba can’t afford to miss it. The Cuban government announced on Monday that 10 people had died as a result of the storm, bringing the death toll in the Caribbean to at least 37.
The hurricane’s impact was felt broadly across all economic sectors. While the Bahamas generally avoided the worst of the destruction, the Morton Salt company, on Inagua, suffered significant damage to its production plant, where it employs 145 workers and is the main economic driver.
Theresa Lewis, 50, who has worked as a security guard at the plant for more than a decade, fled Inagua last week with her entire family and holed up in a shelter in Nassau. She fears she may be out of work for months.
“If things are closed down for long, I will have to depend on what I can make from the little arts and crafts that I sell — bags, jewelry, slippers — until the plant re-opens,” Ms. Lewis said. “I just finished building my house a couple of months ago and I have no idea what I will meet when I get there or when I will work again.”
The company said in a statement on Monday that it intended to pay its employees during the recovery process.
Frank J. Comito, chief executive officer of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, said the region will need “sustained participation” by both the public and private sector to ensure a complete recovery. His group has partnered with Tourism Cares, a non-profit, to raise relief and rebuilding assistance from the hotel chains, credit card companies and any other enterprises involved in the Caribbean tourism industry.
The well-being of employees whose livelihood are now threatened is of particular concern.
“How do we get our tourism product back up and running?” he said. “How do we make sure our employees get involved in the industry again and get employed?”
Giles Cadman, a businessman who divides his time between Canada and the British Virgin Islands, said individuals were doing what they could to bring aid to the affected communities in Tortola, the largest island in the British territory. While the islands are known as playgrounds for the wealthy, he said, there are many residents who survive there on modest incomes from cleaning boats, serving food and working in shops.
“We have a lot of ordinary people and expats from small islands who earn under $8 an hour,” Mr. Cadman said. “I’ll be fine. It’s the others who live here — the people who clean boats and houses, who work in the service sector — that we need to worry about.”
In St. Barthélemy, there is an ambitious plan, shared by nearly everyone on the island: restore the hotels, shops and restaurants fast enough to catch at least part of the winter high season. There is the will, the scale — the island covers only eight square miles — and undoubtedly the money; the island has been dubbed the “St. Moritz of the Caribbean.”
Bruno Magras, the president of the local government, said the largest impact was on private homes and public infrastructure, like the fire station and government offices. Hotel capacity also has been hit.
“Obviously that will have an economic impact,” he said. “Tourism is everything to us. It’s the only economic activity we have. We import everything and export nothing.”
The president has asked every hotel and villa on the island to give him a timeline for repairing their facilities. By Tuesday, he expects the island’s steep and winding roads to be fully cleared of debris, and trash collection to begin once more.
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