As restoration and rebuilding efforts are underway for Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands, Bahamian officials are reminding the public that there are 14 other islands that are ready to welcome tourists.
While the catastrophic storm cannot be understated – at least 45 people died and hundreds are still missing – tourism to the unaffected islands can bring in needed funds to help those in need.
"One of the best ways that people around the world can show their support and solidarity ... is to visit our other islands by air or by cruise ship," the Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said.
The Bahamas depend heavily on tourism, which supplies half of their annual gross domestic product of $5.7 billion, according to the Bahamas Investment Authority.
Some of the most popular resorts on the 700-island chain — like Atlantis, Paradise Island and Baha Mar (which includes Grand Hyatt, SLS and Rosewood properties) — were unscathed. All-inclusive hotels Warwick Paradise Island and Sandals Royal Bahamian, and boutique hotels in the Out Islands like Cat Island and Bimini, were also unaffected.
"There are no words to convey the grief we feel for our fellow Bahamians in The Abacos and Grand Bahama," said the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation Minister Dionisio D'Aguilar. "Now is the time to come together for our brothers and sisters in need, and help our country get back on its feet. Anyone who wishes to provide relief support should go to www.bahamas.com/relief for verified ways to help. We also implore travelers to continue visiting the Bahamian islands that were not impacted by Hurricane Dorian, as this will help our people tremendously."
On Abacos and Grand Bahama Island (the two islands in the Northwest Bahamas that were devastated by Hurricane Dorian), many smaller hotels and vacation rentals were damaged or destroyed. The Ministry of Tourism confirmed last week that all hotels on Abaco and Grand Bahama are closed.
Together, the islands have about 3,000 hotel rooms, or 19% of the 16,000 rooms in the Bahamas, according to Frank Comito, CEO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association. They also have hundreds of vacation homes. Airbnb lists more than 600 rentals for Grand Bahama and the Abacos islands.
The Abaco Club on Winding Bay said it “weathered Hurricane Dorian relatively well,” and is currently acting to provide urgent and immediate assistance to the people of Great Abaco Island. Green Turtle Club Resort and Marina, too, is focusing on raising funds via The Green Turtle Foundation GoFundMe.
The owners of Pelican Beach Villas said their oceanfront cottages near Marsh Harbour were completely destroyed and they were evacuated to Nassau by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers. Firefly Resort Abaco tweeted photos of downed trees and a building with no roof and a collapsed wall.
Grand Lucayan (the largest resort on Grand Bahama Island) and the Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach are closed.
Many Hurricane Dorian Bahamas relief efforts are underway. For information on how to help, go to www.bahamas.com/relief.