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Hurricane damage will impact winter travel

Marina Mercurio, who is a travel agent for Travel Plus in Coventry, said about 30 percent of the Caribbean has been impacted by the storms, changing many travel plans.

So far, 2017 has been a record-breaking year for all the wrong reasons.

Hurricane Harvey, then Irma, and then Maria, pummeled large cities and tiny towns, leaving ruins in their wake.

Marina Mercurio, who is a travel agent for Travel Plus in Coventry, said about 30 percent of the Caribbean has been impacted by the storms, changing many travel plans.

“It's just basically staying in the loop and knowing what's happening, whether it's being cancelled or maybe you're going to different islands,” Mercurio said.

While September and October are typically slow in the Caribbean, the devastation is so extensive that some towns and resorts won't be ready for tourists in time for the busy winter season.

“It sounds like months for right now. I know a lot of places are planning on opening in December and January,” said Mercurio. “Another thing to remember is just because a hotel is open, doesn't mean all of its facilities are open.”

Right now, cruise ships are re-routing trips, and travel agents are working to find clients alternate accommodations.

The good news is many of Southern New England's favorite destinations, like the Dominican Republic, Aruba and Mexico weren't impacted.

Even better news -- many of those unscathed resorts are offering deals.

“A lot of the islands have actually offered discounts, some free nights, just trying to help keep that tourism in the Caribbean,” said Mercurio.

But, because there are fewer rooms, it's probably a good idea to book soon.

“A lot of people are already traveling during this time, so room space is limited,” Mercurio said.

At the moment, it's unclear if flight prices will be impacted because some airports are still closed. The airport in St. Martin, for example, is finally opening for limited flights on Oct., 6, after a month of rebuilding.

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