Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
Jamaica's tourism capital, Montego Bay, was spared the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, which left the resort town unscathed.
The town's airport, Sangster International, was up and running from as early as 7 a.m. Thursday, while there was brisk business activity in the city hours after the hurricane wreaked havoc in other sections of Jamaica.
"We could easily say that we had no category one hurricane in St James; we had winds and light rain, but we are back to business this morning," said Basil Johnson, managing director of Discount Lumber and Hardware, who added that business was picking up by the hour.
Johnson's comments were cemented by Margaritaville Caribbean's director of sales and marketing, André Dixon, who told the Financial Gleaner that he was happy to report that his five properties came through basically unscathed.
"With the exception of some minor removal of thatched roofs and tiles, we are fine and grateful that more damage was not done".
The five properties, one based in Negril, three in Montego Bay and another in Ocho Rios, reopened Thursday, said Dixon.
Despite the fact that the hurricane did not cause much damage, Dixon noted that Montego Bay, Falmouth and Ocho Rios, all lost Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise line ships, because the cruise lines changed their itineraries as a result of the hurricane.
More than 8,000 passengers were scheduled to dock at the three piers.
Not one Montego Bay hotel has reported any damage, the challenge they now face is cancellations by guests unable to get airline seats to rebook their vacation into the island.
"Those whose flights were cancelled on Wednesday are having problems finding seats to get here on other days," said one hotelier, who added that his resorts would waive the cancellation penalty, because he doesn't want to lose the business, particularly during October, a traditionally slow month.
Over in Negril, the resort town billed as the 'capital of casual', hoteliers there say they fared well.
As early as 6 a.m. Thursday, Sandy Haven Resort was sending out emails stating it had received no damage from the hurricane and was ready for business.
"The western end of the island was quite calm, although precautions were put in place. All is back to normal and operations have been resumed," says management at the resort, encouraging persons to take the opportunity and book their trip now.