Irene blows apart New England travel plans

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Brides rescheduled weddings, hotels struggled with cancellations and major tourist attractions like Connecticut's Mystic Seaport closed as Hurricane Irene headed toward New England on Friday, already delivering a blow to the region's tourism industry.

The powerful storm churned north on a path projected to hit the Connecticut shoreline Sunday. The timing of the storm — on one of the last weekends of summer — could hardly have been worse for an industry already coping with high gas prices and a weak economy.

Doreen Pearson, who owns the 21-room Stanton House Inn in affluent Greenwich, said Friday she had five multi-night cancellations and many more indecisive guests. Some callers from low-lying areas wanted guarantees the storm wouldn't affect them if they booked a room, she said.

"We're here now in a total state of flux because people can't decide whether they want to honor their reservation, cancel their reservation or make a reservation," Pearson said. "It's impossible to operate a business this way."

Even before the storm, AAA was predicting a drop in travel over the Labor Day weekend compared with last year because of the economy.

"It will be significant and to some degree it will be a permanent loss to New England," said Fred Carstensen, director of the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis. "What they were going to do this weekend they won't choose to do three weeks later."

Tourism is a major component of the region's economy. In Connecticut, the industry is responsible for 12 to 14 percent of the work force, Carstensen said.

In Maine, which bills itself as "Vacationland," Irene is expected to cause tens of millions of dollars of lost revenue for the tourism industry as people alter their travel plans or cancel trips altogether, said Charles Colgan of the University of Southern Maine's Muskie Institute of Public Service in Portland.

"If this had happened in July, people would've postponed their vacations and postponed their travel," Colgan said. "But a lot of the losses for tourism won't be recovered simply because of the timing."

At Pearson's B&B, Susan Royal was helping her daughter call wedding guests to let them know the ceremony would be held Saturday instead of Sunday at the bride's father's estate in Ridgefield. And it would be indoors.

"This will be a wedding you won't forget," Royal said, figuring about 50 of the original 85 guests would attend. "Nature has its course. What you do is work with it, not against it."

At Water's Edge Resort in Westbrook, one bride postponed her weekend wedding and another was sticking with her plans. The hotel had received eight cancellations by Friday morning but expected the number to rise and its popular Sunday brunch to take a hit.

"We're going to lose all that," general manager Chris Barstein said. "From a business standpoint, we're not too happy to see this."

Hotels said they were taking a number of safety measures, including securing backup generators, extra bottled water and staff on duty, bringing in outdoor furniture and providing frequent weather updates.

The timing of the storm — the last weekend before Labor Day — almost couldn't be worse, said Kathy Szabo, executive director of the Block Island Chamber of Commerce in Rhode Island. She said ferries that bring visitors to the island from Montauk, N.Y., New London, Conn., and Point Judith, R.I., are grappling with how to adjust their schedules — and what to do with their boats — given the uncertainty over the storm's path.

"Obviously they don't want to lose business," she said. "Nor do they want to lose their ferries. Even though you have to do what you have to do, you're losing your revenue for the end of the season, which is too bad."

Suzie Kiendl, an owner of Barnacle Inn on Nantucket, was pulling a boat out of the water Friday morning before the storm hits the island popular among tourists, likely on Sunday. Kiendl said some guests are cutting their vacations short and a few have canceled, but others have extended their stay and plan to ride out the storm at the inn.

"We lost a few people and gained a few ... revenues are definitely lost, but what can you do? You just have to relax," Kiendl said.

For now, she plans to fasten the shutters, take in the lawn furniture and "maybe have some champagne ready."

Some hotels were gaining business, too. In Connecticut, about 100 rooms were booked at the Stamford Marriott Hotel and Spa by utility crews and residents anticipating power losses.

"It's pretty substantial," said Peter Griffith, director of sales and marketing. "It's a huge pickup."

But a youth leadership conference at the hotel this weekend that would have been attended by about 100 high school students from several states was postponed.

"I think the students were pretty disappointed," said Elizabeth Ventura, one of the organizers. "They were all looking forward to it."

Some attractions in New Hampshire's White Mountain region, such as theme parks Santa's Village and Story Land, will be closed Sunday, taking a hit in revenue.

"It does hurt, because this is the 'last hurrah' week for families coming up before the end of the summer season," said Jayne O'Connor, president of the White Mountains Attractions Association. "Public safety takes precedence."

New Hampshire's Fish and Game Department urged hikers, campers and other outdoor enthusiasts to be home by Saturday night. All trails and campgrounds in the White Mountain National Forest will be closed.

Up and down New England's coast, recreational boaters were rushing to get their boats out of the water and onto dry land. At Portland Yacht Services in Maine, service manager Rob Benson said about 1 in 10 boaters told him they're done for the season.

Across New England, an early end to the boating system carries a hefty impact.

"If your boat is sitting in the parking lot, you're not putting gas in the tank, you're not stopping at the local variety store to buy groceries and sandwiches, you're not coming into the marine store to buy a life jacket," said Rob Soucy, president of Port Harbor Marine in South Portland.

Even some gamblers weren't willing to risk Irene.

"Obviously the weekend will not be what we thought it would be," said Jeff Hartmann, president and chief executive officer of Mohegan Sun, one of two Indian-run casinos in Connecticut.

___

Associated Press writers David Sharp in Portland, Maine; Erika Niedowski in Providence, R.I.; Kathy McCormack in Gilford, N.H., and Johanna Kaiser in Boston contributed to this report.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills
    N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills

    North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre-rattling. "If there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the …

  • Troops overrun BIFF bomb-making facility in Mamasapano
    Troops overrun BIFF bomb-making facility in Mamasapano

    Government troops captured Sunday a bomb and weapons factory of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced yesterday. Col. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesman, said the captured bomb and weapons factory is located inside an area controlled by radical Muslim cleric Ustadz Mohammad Ali Tambako at Barangay Dasikil in Mamasapano. …

  • No need for Revilla to visit son – prosecutors
    No need for Revilla to visit son – prosecutors

    Instead of filing an opposition, ombudsman prosecutors filed a manifestation yesterday expressing belief that there is no urgent need for Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. to visit his son at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center. “Based on the clinical abstract issued by the Asian Hospital on patient (Cavite) Vice-governor (Jolo) Revilla, which was submitted by accused Revilla in support of his Urgent Motion, Vice-governor Revilla is in stable condition and has stable vital signs, as of March 1, …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • How Islamic is Islamic State group? Not very, experts say
    How Islamic is Islamic State group? Not very, experts say

    CAIRO (AP) — Three British schoolgirls believed to have gone to Syria to become "jihadi" brides. Three young men charged in New York with plotting to join the Islamic State group and carry out attacks on American soil. A masked, knife-wielding militant from London who is the face of terror in videos showing Western hostages beheaded. …

  • 'Jihadi John' relatives under watch in Kuwait
    'Jihadi John' relatives under watch in Kuwait

    Kuwaiti authorities are closely monitoring several relatives of "Jihadi John" who live and work in the Gulf emirate where the Islamic State executioner was born, press reports said on Sunday. A number of relatives of Mohammed Emwazi, named as the militant who has beheaded at least five Western hostages, are working in Kuwait and like him hold British citizenship, Al-Qabas newspaper reported. "Security agencies have taken the necessary measures to monitor them round the clock," the paper said, …

  • Interview: Australia says hunt for missing MH370 jet may be called off soon
    Interview: Australia says hunt for missing MH370 jet may be called off soon

    By Matt Siegel CANBERRA (Reuters) - The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 cannot go on forever, Australia's deputy prime minister said, and discussions are already under way between Australia, China and Malaysia as to whether to call off the hunt within weeks. No trace has been found of the Boeing 777 aircraft, which disappeared a year ago this week carrying 239 passengers and crew, in what has become one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history. The search of a rugged …

  • Bong wants to see son in hospital
    Bong wants to see son in hospital

    Detained Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. will ask the Sandiganbayan to allow him to visit his son, Cavite Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla, confined at the intensive care unit of the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa for a gunshot wound in the chest. Lawyer Raymond Fortun, spokesman for the Revilla family, said the senator would ask for a 24- to 48-hour furlough. Sen. Revilla’s legal counsel Ramon Esguerra said doctors removed a half liter of blood. Fortun said he was able to talk to Jolo …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options