In early September, Hurricane Dorian devastated portions of the Bahamas with 165- to 185-mph winds and unprecedented flooding.
And while some hard-hit areas like the Abacos Islands and Grand Bahama Island aren’t ready to host visitors, most of the country – which comprises 700 islands and cays – is open for business and greeting tourists.
Fourteen of the 16 major tourist islands were largely unaffected by the hurricane and are welcoming visitors with open arms, said Elizabeth Foxman of the Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism and Aviation office.
“We appreciate the outpouring of support from citizens around the world,” Foxman said. “The best thing people can do for the Bahamas, now more than ever, is to visit.”
The Bahamas, Post-Dorian
Renowned for the natural beauty of its clear blue waters, sunny beaches and lush foliage, the Bahamas depends on tourism for more than half of its economy. But the area has seen a dramatic drop in tourism following Hurricane Dorian, with hotels seeing double- and triple-digit cancellations.
But not all areas were affected by Dorian. In general, northern islands were hit much harder than central and southern ones. Unaffected islands include Acklins/Crooked Island, Andros, Berry Islands, Bimini, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Exumas, Inagua, Long Island, Mayaguana, Nassau, Paradise Island and San Salvador.
Helping Through Tourism
Although traveling to the Bahama Islands after a natural disaster may feel uncouth, officials say a lack visitors would further hurt the region.
“Now is the time to come together for our brothers and sisters in need, and help our country get back on its feet,” said Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation. “We also implore travelers to continue visiting the Bahamian islands that were not impacted by Hurricane Dorian as this will help our people tremendously.”
If you’re interested in traveling to the Bahamas, contact your AAA travel agent to handle the planning and ensure your destination and the supporting airport is open and ready for business. While some airports are closed, Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport is open.
“Hotels in Nassau and Paradise Island – including Atlantis and Baha Mar – were not affected by Hurricane Dorian,” Foxman, of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation office, said. “Many hotels and resorts in the Out Islands regularly close during the fall months and reopen beginning in October. Hotels in Grand Bahama Island and the Abacos remain closed until further notice.”
Cruise Ships Are Returning
Popular cruise lines are returning to the islands as well.
Carnival Cruise Line has reopened most of its Bahamian ports, including Nassau and the private destinations of Half Moon Cay and Princess Cay. Princess Cruises and and the Holland America Line plan to resume Bahamas-bound sailings in October.
The ships Carnival Pride and Carnival Liberty delivered relief supplies, including chainsaws, generators, medical supplies meals and water, to Freeport on Sept. 12 and 13.
Carnival Corporation has delivered more than 5 million pounds of supplies to the Bahamas, and is partnering with two organizations – Direct Relief and World Central Kitchen – to further assist impacted residents, said Vance Gulliksen, Carnival Corporation’s public relations manager. The efforts are part of a $2 million pledge by Carnival Corporation and the Micky and Madeleine Arison Family Foundation to support relief efforts.
Those wishing to donate to Hurricane Dorian relief for the Bahamas can visit The Island of the Bahamas website, which includes a list of specific items hurricane victims desperately need, as well as the Nassau Paradise Islands’ website for a list of charitable funds.