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Why now is the time to visit the Caribbean.

2017 is definitely a year for the books. Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the Caribbean with damaging winds, torrential rains and disastrous flooding. People lost their homes, businesses, and some even lost their lives.

When a location is heavily dependent on tourism, as most of the Caribbean islands are, the aftermath of vacationers canceling or looking elsewhere can be as troublesome as the hurricane itself.

According to the Caribbean Tourism Organization, almost 30 million tourists visited the Caribbean area in 2016 and spent more than $35 billion. With travel and tourism accounting for a higher share of the gross domestic product than in any other region of the world, this means the good people that inhabit these islands and depend on our tourism are really hurting right now

But let's be real here: we work hard for our vacation days! If you were thinking of the Caribbean, then you were looking forward to spending time in a tropical paradise, not someplace that looks like a war zone, right?

Two months have passed since the Caribbean was rocked and the good news is, your tropical paradises are well on their way to recovery. Some are already back to normal. Many didn't even get hit (for instance Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Aruba). Even better news is that prices are trending lower than usual in order to entice vacationers back to the islands that experienced a hurricane this season.

The holiday season is upon us and this time of year is always a very busy time for the Caribbean. Prices are often at their peak over Thanksgiving and especially Christmas. Savvy travelers have been getting great deals on beautiful Caribbean destinations due to the islands really vamping back up. How do you know if you should pick one island over the other, or what damage (if any) a certain island has sustained, where to stay, etc.? That's my job! I'll be able to help you decide which islands and resorts are ready for your business.

As you may know, some islands got hit a bit harder than others (i.e. Puerto Rico) and while it might take some time for the island to be back to 100%, you can plan to visit PR in the next few months or so. Booking now may snag you a better deal.

Cruises that are usually sold out for the holidays or often expensive now have availability along with last minute pricing. Celebrity Cruises, for example, has an outstanding deal for a holiday cruise aboard the Celebrity Summit on 12/23/17 for seven nights starting at $499 for interior rooms and $549 for ocean view rooms (must book by Nov. 8 to get the deal). Carnival has availability on several of their ships in the month of December starting at $439 from Galveston and Miami. Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line won't be outdone and have their own specials depending on when you can cruise. Possibilities? I'd say so!

It goes without saying that the Caribbean is truly unique and continues to be a super special place that is so close for many Americans to slip away to. So when thinking of a last minute destination this holiday or even into spring and summer of next year, I would recommend keeping in mind the thousands of people that are waiting to welcome you back to the place they call home in the Caribbean. I'm betting hospitality and service will be at an all time high! I know I speak for many when I say the Caribbean is open, it's beautiful, and it needs you just as much as you need that next vacation!

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