Before being subjected to storms of Hurricane Dorian, the Bahamas were going to hit a record-breaking business for tourism for 2019. Tourism is the vital business sector in the Bahamas. With the death toll rising, the future is uncertain.
However, the most famous and best-known resorts in the 700-island chain like Atlantis, Paradise Island are unharmed by the Hurricane Dorian. The same goes for largest city in the Bahamas, Nassau. While some part is undamaged, Grand Bahama Island and Abaco islands, along with some smaller hotels, vacation rentals are destroyed. This has created a challenge for the Bahamas to convince tourists to keep coming to the country without being affected by the damaged islands.
Ellison Thompson, the deputy director-general of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation said that donations are welcome but people can assist them by visiting the islands of the Bahamas in some unaffected areas as they “are open for business”.
The Bahamas depend heavily on tourism. According to the Bahamas Investment Authority, half of their annual gross domestic product of $5.7 billion comes from tourism. In comparison, tourism accounts for 20 percent of Hawaii's annual GDP and less 3 percent of the GDP from the US.
The Ministry of Tourism confirmed on September 6 that all hotels in Abaco and Grand Bahama are closed. The CEO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism, Frank Comito, stated that these islands together summed up to 3,000 hotel rooms which are 19% of the 16,000 rooms in the Bahamas. More than 600 rentals for Grand Bahama and the Abacos islands are Airbnb listed.
In 2018, 670,000 tourists came to the Grand Bahamas in cruise ships and more than 100,000 visitors flew into Marsh Harbour, which is the largest town in Abaco islands. Some hotels are still providing updates on Facebook about their condition. The owners of Pelican Beach Villas informed media that their oceanfront cottages near Marsh Habour were destroyed and they have been evacuated to Nassau by US Customs and Border Protection officers. Firefly Resort Abaco posted photos of the trees that were damaged and a collapsed wall saying that while the hurricane destroyed their paradise, they would rebuild it.
There are still some industries functioning in the Bahamas after the hurricane. Grand Bahama is home to Freeport Container Port. It is a deepwater port for container ships going through the ocean. Hutchinson ports that are Hong Kong-based also using their emergency team to help with the rescue operations in order to re-establish the power of the port. The nearby cruise terminal also sustained minimal damage and are trying that ships carry supplies for humanitarian purposes by September 9 as stated by Spokesperson, Anthony Tam. Businesses like these would help quicken the recovery of Bahamas.
Carnival Cruise Lines is also committed to developing the port in Grand Bahama which was announced earlier this year. It will be completed in 2021, becoming that largest Carnival Cruise port in the world and will provide up to 1,000 jobs. Tourism is required to bring the much-needed cash to provide jobs to displaced hotel workers in the unaffected islands.
The Bahamas Prime Minister, Hubert Minnis requested on September 6 that the best way people from around the world could show their support is by visiting their islands by air or cruise ships.
(with inputs from AP)