By Alana Wise Sept 28 (Reuters) – Carnival Corp’s chief executive said on Thursday that the cruise company expected Puerto Rico and the Caribbean to rebound by winter after hurricanes that wrecked havoc on the islands.
“The resiliency of those people and the focus they have, I would be very surprised if they’re not up and running before Christmas, which is the time for the peak season. Very surprised if they’re not,” Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald told Reuters.
Hurricane Maria, which made landfall in Puerto Rico last week, dumped torrential rain on the U.S. territory, destroyed its electricity grid and killed at least 16 people.
The storm was one of several massive hurricanes that walloped the region over the last several weeks.
Aspects of the tourism industry, including airlines and hotels, have been largely crippled in areas that were hardest hit by storms.
Doug Parker, chief executive of American Airlines, the largest U.S. carrier, said on CNBC that Puerto Rico lacked the infrastructure that would allow the airline to ramp up flights, which have been limited to a handful a day.
Cruise ships were able to sail out of harm’s way during the storms.
Earlier this month, Carnival raised its full-year forecast for earnings. It said it expected a 10 cent to 12 cent per share impact on fourth-quarter earnings due to the closures of some 7 percent to 9 percent of ports in the Caribbean due to Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Donald said he expected San Juan, Puerto Rico, where most residents were still without power, to recover as a transit port within a relatively short time.
Some related industries such as hotels, which sustained significant structural damage in Puerto Rico, will take longer to come back.
Marriott International Inc Chief Global Officer Ray Bennett projected that some of the chain’s hotels on Puerto Rico would be closed from several weeks to a year or more due to damage.
Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc properties in Puerto Rico are not taking new reservations or accepting arrivals through Oct. 31, with the exception of the El Conquistador Resort, which is not taking reservations or arrivals until Dec. 31, said company spokeswoman Karla Visconti.
“We are a little bit messy, but we are not destroyed,” Caribe Hilton General Manager Pablo Torres said of the property. He said the extent of damage to the Caribe and other Hiltons would not be known until a full assessment had been completed. (Reporting by Alana Wise)
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