12 May 2004
I would like to reassure you and your customers that the northern part of Montserrat is at no greater volcanic risk than many of the other islands in the Caribbean. In fact, the risk to the north of the island from the volcano is deemed to be similar to the risk from hurricanes and earthquakes, both of which occur from time to time across all the Leeward and Windward Islands.
The southern part of the island is still threatened by the volcano, and that is why there is an exclusion zone around the volcano. So long as visitors do not enter this area, then they will probably not even notice the volcano whilst on Montserrat.
The activity of the volcano at the present time is extremely low and, as a result, areas of the exclusion zone that have been unoccupied for nearly 7 years have just been re-opened, providing visitors with the opportunity to view the former capital, Plymouth, that has largely been inundated by debris from the volcano.
Soufrière Hills Volcano is one of the best-monitored volcanoes in the world, so if there are any signs of a future increase in activity, the scientists at MVO provide timely warnings to the authorities and public on the Montserrat. In the event of an increase in activity, it is unlikely that occupied areas will be seriously affected by the volcano, except for falling ash and small stones.
Indeed, Montserrat is one of the only places in the Caribbean where you can experience a wide range of ecotourism activities: diving, hiking and visiting the volcano observatory where you can talk to the scientists and see an active volcano up close.