Hurricane is bad ending to good travel season
As Hurricane Earl bears down on Cape Cod and the islands on one of the busiest weekends of the summer, local tour operators are gearing up for what could be a disappointing end to a bright tourist season.
But with the worst of storm expected to pass by Saturday afternoon and sunny skies forecast for Sunday and Monday, business owners are hopeful the majority of the weekend won't be lost.
Overall, it's been a better summer than last year, with the slowly rebounding economy and hot, dry weather helping drive up hotel occupancy up around the state -- all of which makes Hurricane Earl's timing even more frustrating.
"It's sort of like a bad movie," said Dan Wolf, president and founder of Cape Air and Nantucket Airlines, which are canceling about 250 flights between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. "You pick the worst weekend of the year to have this happen and the worst day, which is Friday."
The hurricane hasn't caused mass cancellations, hotel owners say, but it has made some people nervous. Jeff Popkin of Needham ditched his reservations on the high-speed ferry from Hyannis to Nantucket, as well as his Friday and Saturday night reservations at Nantucket Inn. "It doesn't sound like the safest place to be," he said.
Nantucket Inn is still sold out, to general manager Scott Thomas's surprise, partly due to the utility repair crews and media moving in to cover the hurricane. The summer season hasn't been record-breaking, Thomas said, but it has been an improvement, something he was hoping to add to this weekend.
"It could not be a worse possible time, quite honestly," he said of the rain and 80-mile-an-hour gusts expected Friday night on Nantucket. "Why would you want to come and sit in your room in the rain in the dark?"
But the coast's loss could be the Berkshires' gain. "We were thinking about going to Western Mass. and enjoying a spot where there may not be any rain," Popkin said.