Saturday, July 09, 2005

Tourists drawn to Montserrat, a decade after the eruption

A decade after a series of volcanic eruptions smothered two-thirds of Montserrat in ash, the Caribbean island is set to reopen its airport. Locals hope the move will help jump-start the British territory's long-dormant tourist industry.

Visitors welcome: A cove at Woodlands Beach overlooks the Atlantic Ocean at Montserrat.

Montserrat Tourist Bureau

Starting Monday, St. Maarten-based Winair will fly four times a day to Montserrat from Antigua. Round-trip promotional fares for the 20-minute, 19-seat Twin Otter trip start at $99.

The airport, along with two newly built towns, is in the northern "safe zone," considered beyond the reach of the Soufrière Hills volcano that buried the former capital, Plymouth.

Soufrière Hills rumbled to life last week for the first time in two years and remains a centerpiece of Montserrat's nascent tourism campaign: An observatory offers tours, and escorted visits to Plymouth — a modern-day Pompeii — are in the works.

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