DES MOINES, Iowa -- While it seems almost trivial to bring up ruined vacation plans compared to fatal hurricanes, it's actually adding insult to injury for many of the Caribbean island nations.
“I've been doing this since the mid-80s, and I know we've had some stuff in Florida but I just don't remember it being so widespread” said travel agent Rick South Jr..
South is the co-owner of The Travel Center in Des Moines. He says between 20 and 30 percent of his clients have had their vacation plans turned upside down by the series of storms.
“We've had cruises that have been shortened itinerary, we've had flights canceled, flights changed, cruises canceled, delayed, whatever” said South.
The silver lining is that most people buy travel insurance that guards against this sort of thing so they can either get their money back, or move their trip to a different location. South says some places will see a boom in the winter travel season.
“My guess is the winters on all this is going to be Jamaica because they didn't get hit, and probably Mexico will kinda get into the game again as far as people wanting to go there” said South.
While moving a vacation from St. Croix to Jamaica may be considered more of an annoyance in the grand scheme of things, for these islands whose economy is almost solely based on tourism, it's devastating.
“From the shops to the restaurants to you know, just places on the beach that people go buy stuff from...the whole gambit” said South.
For example, The U.S. Virgin Islands see almost 60 percent of their economy come from the tourism sector. Some of that comes from hosting events like the Paradise Basketball Tournament Drake University was supposed to play in. Now the games are in question. Organizers released a statement saying:
“As of this update, Hurricane Maria is expected to pass within 20 miles of St. Croix as a major hurricane on Tuesday night. We will re-evaluate options after the storm. Paradise Jam tournament directors will be traveling to the Virgin Islands next week to assess the situation”
And the worst part is, hurricane season is not over yet.