Montserrat is open for tourism business following the collapse of the lava dome at the Soufriere Hills Volcano on Saturday May 20th, 2006. The Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) confirmed that the lava dome collapsed over a three hour period on Saturday leading to mud flows around the volcano and surges along the north-east flank.
Following a helicopter flight the MVO reported that nearly all the dome is gone and currently there is low level activity with ash venting taking place on the west side of the crater. There were no casualties or injuries reported from the incident and the population remains safe.
Many tourism businesses in the Old Towne, Olveston, Salem and Woodlands area were adversely affected, mainly from heavy ash falls. However most of these businesses are working diligently to clean up their properties and will be fully up and running by the end of this week. Checks with the Vue Pointe Hotel in Old Towne confirm that their guests have been moved to the Tropical Mansions Suites Hotel in the north and that they will be closed for a week. Mr. Frank Edwards, owner of Montserrat Enterprises, one of the largest villa rental operators on the island, confirmed that clean up efforts were well on the way and they expect to honour all reservations. The other main villa rental companies also confirmed this sentiment. The guesthouse properties in the ash-affected areas confirmed that they are all fully open and accepting business, and in fact some are fully booked.
Tourism establishments in the north of the island in the areas such as Brades, Sweeney’s, St. Peter’s, Little Bay and St. Johns were minimally affected and are open for business. The airport at Gerald’s was closed for a brief period on Saturday morning but has been fully operational since and flights are on a normal schedule. The Port at Little Bay was also not affected by Saturday’s dome collapse and remains open to visiting yachts and pleasure craft. All utilities are functioning, although there are some problems with ash on electric lines in the south and persons are being asked to restrict their use of water for the next week.
“We would like the traveling public to know that Montserrat remains open for visitors and is still safe to visit,” comments the Director of Tourism of the Montserrat Tourist Board, Ms. Ernestine Cassell. “Tourism businesses in the north are fully operational and most establishments in the affected areas should be back to normal in the next week. We would advise though that persons visiting within the next couple of weeks check with their accommodation provider to reconfirm their reservations and also look for updates about volcanic activity on the MVOs website www.mvo.ms”
Montserrat, a lush green and mountainous island of approximately 39 square miles, lies in the Eastern Caribbean chain of islands. Known fondly as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, this pear shaped island is a traveler’s paradise for nature lovers, divers, adventurers, family and villa vacationers, and honeymooners. This British overseas territory boasts the spectacular Soufrière Hills Volcano, a modern day Pompeii in the form of its buried former capital city Plymouth, alongside lush, green mountains, world class nature trails, deserted dark sand beaches, untouched reefs and a quiet friendly charm reminiscent of the way the Caribbean used to be. For more information on Montserrat and its breathtaking scenery and unspoiled, unpolluted coral and volcanic vistas, visit www.visitmontserrat.com.