On Friday, the owner of the Domaine Monivée hotel on the riviera in Cannes and the Jet Royal yacht insurance provider Aziberg announced that they had entered into a wide-ranging partnership. However, this deal was seen by some as part of the Côte d’Azur’s efforts to wean itself off its reliance on international tourists.
The departure of international tourists has been a strong feature of the Grenadine island of St. Vincent, which hosted the film festival this year and prides itself on offering a cheap, hospitable destination for people seeking a more affordable way to holiday. However, the biggest impact that the tourism sector has seen since the devastating volcanic eruption last month has been on the British Virgin Islands.
A series of burst pipes on the West Canaries led to the discharging of large amounts of water, and the hurricane-force winds and heavy rain that followed resulted in extensive damage to the islands’ airports and infrastructure, resulting in massive disruptions to the European travel market. Most airlines stopped flying to the islands, leaving roughly 400 British Virgin Islanders stranded abroad, as well as providing a glum outlook for the summer season. The British Virgin Islands’ tourism department has since launched a campaign for home-based vacationers to give the islands a try, however the positive sentiment from parts of the tourism industry has not been reflected across the board: Carnival celebrations this year were cancelled, sending up a finger in the eyes of the island’s tourism chiefs.
Many of Europe’s other small, sandy destinations have also felt the impact of Hurricane Florence. Quinta do Lago, a beachside resort north of Sao Paulo, suspended renovations after the disaster, forcing employees to cancel a program that offered free classes and excursions to young girls aged between eight and 10 years old. The action also has a profound impact on the local economy. The project, which included a hotel, apartments, restaurants and shops, was designed to generate 3.5 million euros for the community over the following ten years. The return of normalcy will take a long time: locals on Lake and Canary Islands told The Times that they had considered switching their preferences to other beaches as they felt unsafe after a number of massive floods in recent years, some of which caused deaths.
The answer to Europe’s traveling woes may lie in the glimmers of hope that have emerged in the region’s beleaguered tourism sector. Other expat homes and condos in the French Riviera are developing programmes to help weary travelers return to the beaches without being confronted by beached camels, ruined hotels and devastation. Another solution is to build on the island’s strengths: that of the less traditional, less established places in the French West Indies (such as the Grenadines and Suriname) have been rising in favor as well as Spain and Portugal.
Perhaps the biggest development to accompany the upsurge in tourism has been interest from the likes of Chinese entrepreneurs. Haojia Chang and Yinhan Ma reportedly spent £10 million to build a five-star hotel in the West Indies for both Chinese and European tourists, which includes three restaurants, six bars and an infinity pool.