James Ohliger and Romane Recalde travelled to the Turks and Caicos Islands in March for a five-day vacation.
But when the local government decided to close its borders until July in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the couple’s five-day trip turned into a five-month quarantine.
During this time, many Turks and Caicos businesses that rely on tourism have suffered.
“The island is completely dead,” Ohliger, cofounder of Jerry Media, told Business Insider Today. “All the reservations cancelled. The beach is basically a private beach for us and everything shut down.”
The Turks and Caicos Islands, which saw over 1.5 million tourists in 2019, is expected to lose $22 million a month because of the lockdown. The islands’ economy is based almost entirely on tourism, particularly from the United States.
Ohliger, who has travelled there for the past 33 years, said it’s been hard to see so many people out of work. His friend, Kamario Smith, normally works as a bartender at the Ocean Club Resort on the island of Providenciales, and called the impact “very, very devastating.”
The couple plans to return to New York on July 22, the day Turks and Caicos reopens its borders.