By Caribbean News Global contributor
NASSAU, Bahamas – Since hurricane Dorian made landfall on two northern islands of The Bahamas, Grand Bahama Island is rebounding with many of its hotels and attractions reopened and plans for its airport to resume international service is progressing smoothly.
While The Abacos face a long road to recovery, the country remains resilient and steadfast in its commitment to help the island rebuild by maintaining a healthy flow of tourism which accounts for half of the country’s GDP to the islands that were not affected by the storm.
Nassau and Paradise Island
This pair of islands that are home to the country’s most extensive array of resorts, hotels, restaurants and tour operators were not affected by Hurricane Dorian and are operating normally. With seasonal hotel incentives and increased airlift, it is easier than ever for travelers to visit this year.
The Out Islands
Except for The Abacos, the Out Islands are open and operating as usual. Some resorts and lodges take a fall hiatus for annual leave or renewal projects, but there are many options for accommodations. Airports, government ports, and marinas are open across the islands.
Grand Bahama Island
Grand Bahama Island is back to business welcoming travelers at its cruise port, and soon to welcome international travelers when the airport reopens next month. Ferries and cruise lines, including Balearia, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line, are already bringing travelers to Freeport to experience several excursions and sites that have reopened. The airport is operating domestic flights via temporary facilities and will welcome its first international flight on November 15. Numerous hotels and resorts are already open or expected to re-open within weeks.
Recovering – The Abacos
Abaco has the longest road to recovery with virtually no viable options for leisure tourism soon. The current focus is on re-opening local government complexes and restoring basic services to facilitate rebuilding.
New Providence and rebuilding
“While New Providence was spared the brunt of hurricane Dorian, branches/agencies of Supervised Financial Institutions (SFIs) on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama were severely impacted. To this end, the Central Bank is continuing its dialogue with all affected SFIs to ascertain the extent of the damage sustained and the way forward.
“By means of lessons learnt and in order to be better prepared for any future disaster of this magnitude, we invite all SFIs to consider the effect on their business continuity plans, if a Dorian-like event strikes New Providence,” The Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB), quarterly letter on regulatory and supervisory developments said.
Response to hurricane Dorian
The capital of The Bahamas, Nassau, is home to the country’s government, and a central hub for the hurricane Dorian recovery process. Persons that have been displaced by the storm are being accommodated on the island, with the most recent information from The Bahamas National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) indicating that 895 individuals are being housed across six shelters.
Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation chief executive officer (CEO) Jeffrey Beckles said, tremendous opportunities are going to be made available.
“When you consider the number of NGOs that are actually on the ground in The Bahamas that have monies to be spent that are tax free to The Bahamas, you and I don’t have to bear the burden of that expertise [nor] the cost of that expertise, that’s one thing that The Bahamas government, meaning taxpayers; you and me don’t have to fork out to cover those costs.
“Whether it’s engineering, waste management, whatever they may be, add to that the value of knowledge transfer. These organizations have come to The Bahamas with tremendous experience, tremendous exposure. Well, this is an opportunity to train Bahamians [in] new careers, new opportunities [and] new abilities to make a living and sustain ourselves.”
“These are some of the areas that the Chamber of Commerce is actively participating [in] to ensure that again, as we take a look and delve into the larger rebuilding plan for Abaco and eastern Grand Bahama, that they’re getting the template right, because at the end of the day our objective is to foster economic growth [and] to sustain it,…as we look forward, we’re not just looking three and five years down the road, but we’re looking ten and twenty years down.
“Keep in mind that whatever we end up within a finished product on Abaco and East Grand Bahama, has to be replicated at least 10 other times because we will have to do the same thing in Nassau, Andros, Bimini, Long Island, Eleuthera, Exuma, and the list goes on.
“We can’t just stop at rebuilding a stronger Abaco and East Grand Bahama and stop there because the vulnerabilities remain for our other islands,” he said.
How to help
One of the best things people can do to help, now more than ever is to visit. The Bahamas is open for business and still delivering the tropical getaway the country is known for.