and Partners of the Honduras Dive
Garcia, Minister of Tourism, Honduras
Zapata, Director of Marketing, Honduras
Institute of Tourism
As you know,
Hurricane Mitch, the fourth strongest hurricane
ever measured in the Atlantic Basin, and the most
destructive hurricane in 200 years in the
Atlantic, recently paid Honduras a visit.
Our country has
sustained great demage. At this point, we know of
about 7,000 dead and perhaps 20% of our
population homeless. Our agriculture industry has
been decimated. And, we have lost about 94
difficult times, the tourism industry has worked
hard with the rest of our people to save lives,
provide shelter for people, and to help deliver
necessities to the hardest hit places. Many of
the people you know and have worked with in the
past have been unsung heros, opening their
lodging facilities as shelter, and using their
resources and expertise to help Honduras rise
above this catastrophe.
In spite of the
enormity of Mitch´s impact on Honduras, much of
the Bay Islands dive industry came through the
storm relatively undemaged. The lodging and
diving businesses on Roatan and Utila survived
with relatively little damaged. Most are ready to
receive and serve visitors now.
We also have good
news about the reef. The first surveys on the
south side of Roatan indicated that our famous
wall is in good shape. There is some damage in
the shallow waters close to shore to elkhorn and
underway on the north side of Roatan, around
Guanaja. Early indications are that our precious
underwater world survived much better than any of
us dreamed possible. We have international teams
on their way to perform detailed surveys- but the
bottom line is that our reef- the basis for our
mutual tourism economy-came through Mitch in good
A more sobering
note regards the island of Guanaja itself.
Hurricane Mitch stalled with its eye wall over
Guanaja for 39 hours. Winds were rcorded up to
273 mph of the island. All human build
infrastructure was damaged; our famous resorts
were partially damaged. Many people lost homes.
Amazingly, only 9 people were killed. And the
island was stripped of greenery, leaving a desert
Our dive tourism
industry is working fast and hard to be ready to
serve your visitors. The islands of Roatan and
Utila are serving visitor now. And, at the same
time, repairs are underway to the relatively
minor damages on those islands. Be assured that
we would not be encouraging visitors to Roatan
and Utila unless we are confident that we are
prepared to deliver a top quality experience- and
we are! We are putting our world class reputation
on the line in encouraging visitors and are fully
confident that your patrons will not go home
The resorts on
Guanaja are working hard to recover. Posada del
Sol promises to reopen before Christmas, although
at a less than before level. The resort expects
to be "better than before Mitch" by
spring. Baymam Bay Club is also rebuilding, and
expects to reopen in December with a top quality
product on a smaller scale. The other dive and
visitor related businesses on the island are
rebuilding and reopen as soon as possible.
The Ministry of
Tourism and the Honduras Institute of Tourism
have developed a proactive approach in response
to the situation resulting from Hurricane Mitch.
First, a team from
Egret Communications was brought in to help build
and execute a rapid response tourism plan. Egret
Communications played a significant role in
helping rebuild and grow tourism after the fires
in Yellowstone in 1988.
Under that plan,
we will work hard to secure up to date and
accurate information and quickly get it ot you,
our international tourism partners and friends.
We´ll pass that information to you in a timely
manner through mailings like this one.
We will also
establish a web site at hurricane mitch that will be updated as
often as we have new information.
We will bring in
writers, video crews, and photographers to
document the many beautiful things that Honduras
still has to share with visitors after Mitch.
We´ll show them, so they can communicate with
our mutual patrons that Honduras has a quality
tourism experience that we can deliver now!
At the same time,
we are committed to helping you. If there are
connections we can help you make with specific
toursm businesses, please let us be of
assistance. If there is information that we can
provide or research for you regarding the status
of resources or tourism products, we´ll do our
best to do so promptly.
We know that many
of you have friends here in the Honduras tourism
industry, and that you may be concerned for their
welfare. If there are ways we can help you find
people, or pass messages, please let us try.
At the same time,
know that there is a great deal to do here. The
Ministry and the Tourism Institute are helping
host the international press covering Mitch
related stories. We have taken on the
responsibility of relief and resconstruction for
the Bay Islands. So, we are focusing in many
directions at one time.
We are committed
to helping the Honduras Tourism Industry recover
its losses and build an exciting future. We hope
you´ll continue to partner with Honduras tourism
businesses and that we can build a rewarding
Institute of Tourism