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Bahamas: On the Way Back and Open for Business
November 25, 2019
The best way to help the Bahamas is to visit the Bahamas. And to send your clients there.
The message from Bahamas Tourism officials in Toronto was extremely clear at a Thursday lunch.
“We’re battered. We’re bruised. But we’re not broken. And we’re already on the rebound.”
When Hurricane Dorian slammed into the northern islands of the Bahamas on September 1, it unleashed 48 hours of catastrophic damage. Tourism officials on Thursday showed videos of the hurricane’s wrath to journalists and travel trade types.
That damage, however, is only part of the story. Some hotels in the northern Bahamas have already re-opened. But the bigger issue is that MOST of the Bahamas weren’t affected by Dorian at all.
Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar jokingly called reports of the Bahamas demise “fake news.”
On a more serious note, the minister noted that the island nation is almost 1,000 kilometers long. The hurricane was only 125 km’s in diameter and only hit the most northerly islands in the archipelago. Popular tourist spots such as Paradise Island and Baha Mar on Nassau weren’t affected. Ditto for Exuma Cay, Eleuthera, Cat Island, Bimini and other popular destinations for visitors. The famous swimming pigs of Exuma barely batted an eyelash when Dorian arrived.
D’Aguilar said more than 50% of the Bahamas Gross Domestic Product comes from tourism and that two of three jobs in the island nation are tourism related.
“About 90% of the tourism infrastructure was not impacted” by Dorian, he said. “We’re still ready to welcome visitors and still able to deliver the tropical getaway they’re dreaming of.”
Officials said Canadian visits were up 14% in 2018 and that Canadian tourism numbers were up 10% in 2019 when the hurricane hit. Inquires slumped right after the storm, but interest in visiting the Bahamas is picking up nicely.
“There’s no better time to go to the Bahamas than now,” D’Aguilar said. “The best way to help the Bahamas is to the visit the Bahamas.”
The Bahamas has a number of distinct regions and attractions, ranging from those famous swimming pigs on Exuma to the quiet and solitude of Long Island. I was lucky enough to spend a few hours on Eluethera about 14 months ago and found it a magical island with surprising geography and super-friendly locals.
The Bahamas also are easy to reach, with three-hour, non-stop flights from eastern Canada.