Tourism Industry News

Strikes Continue to Disrupt Travel to French Caribbean Islands

02/03/2009 09:42

Holidaymakers have been warned to stay indoors, while many petrol stations, supermarkets and car hire offices remain closed following 37 days of protests at the high cost of living and low wages on the French Caribbean islands.


In a statement released earlier this week, the Martinique Tourism Authority said it was “100 per cent open for tourists”. However, violence has escalated on the island since the comments were issued, with protesters blocking off a number of streets in the capital Fort-de-France on Wednesday night.


The Paris-based National Travel Agencies Organization has reported that around 10,000 tourists have abandoned holidays to the islands after a number of hotels were forced to close, while several cruise operators have cancelled scheduled visits.


Royal Caribbean, a cruise operator, has confirmed that its ship Vision of the Seas has cancelled planned stops at both islands. A spokeswoman said that upcoming itineraries could be affected but added that the situation was being constantly monitored.


Holland America’s ship Noordam was forced to visit Dominica last week instead of Martinique, while cruise lines P&O and Azamara have also been affected.Onyx Travel, an independent British-based operator that specializes in the French Caribbean, confirmed that it currently has clients on both islands.Lynn Hinton, the company’s director, admitted that she had received a few calls from concerned customers, but said that besides powers cuts and difficulties with car hire. the problems for travelers were not severe.


Although efforts to end the strikes are being made –with negotiations set to continue between union leaders and French government officials- the Foreign Office is advising travelers planning to visit Guadeloupe or Martinique to contact their tour operator.





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