Unlocking the mystery of sargassum

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Chairman of the Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association (AHTA), Alex Debrito, in an interview on Saturday with OBSERVER media, said that investments are being made by some Caribbean territories to understand the invasive sargassum seaweed that has adversely impacted the local tourism product.
“There are several islands around the Caribbean that are investing some money on people coming from Europe, especially the French islands, they brought some specialists from Europe and they are trying to analyse and understand this new situation, Debrito explained.
He added that the local hoteliers are still employing the strategy of reacting as quickly as possible whenever there is an influx of the seaweed. According to the AHTA president, sargassum is something that remains a mystery, especially with regards to its prevention.
He revealed that the most affected hotels have hired teams of workers who are dedicated solely to dealing with the seaweed. He said that while some hotels were able to purchase equipment to aid in the timely cleaning up and management of the seaweed, it is still something that hoteliers do not understand well, especially when it comes to preventing it.
He said that the sargassum seaweed is another factor that can negatively affect travel to the Caribbean and specifically to Antigua and Barbuda for the upcoming tourism season. The other factor, of course, is hurricanes that often force visitors to cancel or cut trips short.
Sargassum seaweed wreaked havoc on the tourism industry throughout the Caribbean during the last tourism season and forced the closure of several hotel properties locally. This included the St. James’s Club that was forced to close after losing the battle against the dreaded weed. General Manager of St. James’s Club, Antoine Browne, said that this was the worst invasion that the property had experienced in years. The all-inclusive resort closed temporarily from July 1 but is slated to reopen on October 1, today. 
Coastlines around the country have been overwhelmed with the reddish-brown floating seaweed that washes ashore, covering once-pristine beaches and driving away beach users and sea activities with its stench and mass.  

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