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In the British Virgin Islands, devastation

The British Virgin Islands took a beating from Hurricane Irma, particularly Tortola, the main island of the 50-island chain, as well as Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke.

The flat coral island of Anegada escaped unharmed as it was on the edge of the storm.

Sharon Flax-Brutus, director of tourism, described the destruction in the BVI as "devastating."

"The destination lost entire structures. Homes are without roofs or diminished to merely foundations," she said.

Security and the distribution of aid are the main priorities of government, said Gov. Augustus Jaspert.

"Extra money has been provided by the U.K. to help with ongoing relief efforts, and additional forces are coming from the U.K. to bolster security forces," the governor said in a statement.

A curfew remains in effect from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m.

Premier Orlando Smith warned that it would take the tourism industry more time to recover. "Tourism is much more dependent on facilities in the BVI, and it will take time for us to be in a position to welcome tourists again," he told the online BVI Beacon.

The rebuilding process will be a major undertaking that will require outside assistance, especially from the U.K., according to Smith.

Some power has been restored in Road Town, the capital in Tortola, although it is spotty. Some banks and supermarkets have reopened.

The tourist board office on Tortola is not yet back in operation.

Ports are open to receive food and supplies, and "we are hoping to open Beef Island Airport to commercial flights soon," Jaspert said.

The airport has been open to evacuate visitors and deliver relief supplies. Speedy's Ferry Services is operating three times daily between Virgin Gorda and Tortola.

The Moorings yacht charter company in Road Town had extensive damage to its fleet and marinas. All customers have been evacuated from Tortola and are returning home via Puerto Rico and Antigua, the Moorings said. The 2017 Interline Regatta, scheduled for Oct. 10-17, has been canceled. Customers with reservations between now and Oct. 31 should contact the company.

The Moorings also has an operations base in St. Martin, but no customers were there at the time of the storm. Its locations in Puerto Rico and Bahamas had minimal damage and will resume normal operations shortly.

On the hotel front, Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda "has been devastated" by the storm, according to a message on its Facebook page.

Scrub Island Resort had extensive damage and is closed until further notice.

Sugar Mill Hotel on Virgin Gorda had some damage, but plans to reopen its restaurant on Oct. 12 and its hotel on Oct. 14.

Richard Branson's Necker Island was destroyed. Branson and his staff hid out in the wine cellar in Necker's Great House while the storm passed over the island.

Branson has called for a "Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan" for the BVI and other islands impacted by Irma.

"The plan will have to include building resilience against what is likely to be a higher intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, as the effects of climate change continue to grow," Branson wrote in a blog post.

A number of legendary beachfront bars are now rubble, including Bomba's Surfside Shack, Corsairs



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Khosrowshahi enters ride-hailing sector as traffic is building

Having just left a company whose revenue quadrupled during his 12 years at the helm, new Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has jumped into the fray in the ride-hailing industry, where demand might well dwarf that growth rate. But handling that growth profitably will be another issue altogether.

Khosrowshahi is tasked with managing growth in a market in which smaller U.S. competitor Lyft is expanding, overseas growth has been tricky and competition from the beleaguered taxi industry could return if it adopts the same technologies that fueled the ride-hailing sector.

Amid its challenges, Uber remains by far the world's largest company in an industry where demand is expected to continue to surge as older travelers embrace the concept, services expand beyond major metropolitan areas and providers grow horizontally to expand in market niches such as black-car rides or on-demand transportation for kids or handicapped passengers.

In a May report, Goldman Sachs said that global ride-hailing revenue doubled to almost $36 billion last year and predicted it would surge to $285 billion by 2030 as self-driving technology becomes more commonplace. During the same period, global taxi revenue will fall to $54 billion from $108 billion last year, according to the report.

"Uber was in desperate need of adult supervision, and he's just the person to provide that kind of oversight," Evan Rawley, associate professor of strategic management and entrepreneurship at the University of Minnesota, said of Khosrowshahi. "There's a lot of market share left to be controlled."

That growth continues to lure investors. While Uber raised as much as $15 billion in funding in the first half of the year, its global competitors raised about twice that amount, according to venture-capital analyst CB Insights. And last month, Singapore-based Grab raised $2.5 billion in an equity round. Toyota is one of the investors.

Still, such growth has come at a steep cost so far. Earlier this year, Uber disclosed that it took a $2.8 billion loss on $6.5 billion in revenue last year when it sold its money-hemorrhaging China operations to Didi Chuxing.

Meanwhile, Lyft, whose investors include General Motors, said last week that it would increase from eight to 40 the number of U.S. states where it offers full coverage, meaning that Lyft customers can use the app in all but 10 states.

That kind of competition means Uber could be hard-pressed to raise prices enough to approach profitability.

Additionally, some taxi cooperatives have adopted some of the app-based dispatching technologies pioneered by the ride-hailing sector, raising the possibility of taxis regaining some market share, according to Rawley.

As a result, he called Khosrowshahi's reported goal of taking Uber public in as little as 18 months "wildly optimistic." While he estimated that U.S. ride-hailing revenue could quadruple in the next decade, he added it might take half that time for Uber to approach profitability.

Dara Khosrowshahi Regardless, U.S. business travelers who might have initially hesitated to forego the traditional taxi for Uber or Lyft appear to have established ride-hailing as the preferred method of ad hoc ground transport. Expense-management technology company Certify said in late July that Uber's share of second-quarter U.S. ground-transportation receipts was 77%, about the same percentage as in the first quarter. In the same time frame, Lyft's share rose...


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