BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – THE recent passage of Hurricanes Maria and Irma would likely have an impact on the Federation’s economy and also hurt the private sector.
Though they have not quantified the damage caused by the two hurricanes, the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce is of the view that there was some major damage.
President of the private sector body, Jose Rosa recently explained that the Category 5 storms, which devastated some neighbouring islands, would have a major impact on the region’s tourism industry and would spill over to St. Kitts and Nevis as well as private entities in the Federation.
He noted that it now creates a level of uncertainty for the major economic earner for the Federation, adding that “it could mean more people coming to St. Kitts and Nevis, or it means that people wouldn’t want to come to the Eastern Caribbean because of the devastation”.
“Probably after the last 10 years, the Caribbean saw growth in tourism and this kind of event can affect it. Many of the small islands can have some impact in the tourism sector and it can impact the tourism sector here, and it would have an impact on the private sector. There is no easy way that we can approach this, but we can approach the airlines and the different sectors that manage the tourism.
“Now with Puerto Rico out of the business for a while, St. Maarten already out and St. Thomas already out – those are big ports – and they are part of the Eastern Caribbean. We would be monitoring to see what would be the results of that.”
Unable to give a general cost on the private sector resulting from the storm at the time of the interview, Rosa indicated that they reported the figure to the government on the overall damage that the sector sustained.
He however confirmed that they did sustain damage but they are now seeking to rebound and return to the pre-hurricane position, where they would be serving customers the way they previously did.
Rosa disclosed that the Chamber has already started the conversation on ways the business community could make changes to minimize major damage when there is no direct impact from hurricanes.
Indicating that the season has not ended, the CIC President explained that they need to understand the position of the organization’s members and what they would need should they face another hurricane.
“We ensure that everybody do their own assessment if there is something coming our way from now until November. However, I hope not, but the reality is that we are still in the season.
“After that, we are going to take the conversation a little further. We are not only going to see the preparedness for the hurricane, but also how we are going to work with the aftermath. We have to look at this as a learning experience for all the islands, instead of a small – like construction codes. We want to continue to build at the seashore but we have to continue to look at that, the continued effects of Climate Change for example.”