The tourism and aviation minister for the Bahamas is urging travellers to visit areas of the country not affected by Hurricane Dorian in order to help the country’s economic recovery.
It's been a week since one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded hit the Bahamas. The nation's prime minister described the slow-moving Category 5 hurricane as a "historic tragedy" that claimed at least 43 lives. Homes and infrastructure were destroyed, displacing residents and leaving them without power, clean water and essential services.
The scope of destruction is still unknown but risk modeller Karen Clark & Co told Bloomberg that there was an estimated $7 billion worth of damage. The United Nations estimates that 70,000 people are still homeless. And according to CNN, the Humane Society of Grand Bahama lost 220 dogs and 50 cats to the storm when rescue efforts in the animal shelter were cut short due to rising flood levels.
Grand Bahama Island and Great Abacao Island were the worst hit areas and are currently closed off as recovery efforts get underway. While those areas are off-limits to tourists until further notice, Dionisio D'Aguilar, the tourism and aviation minister, is encouraging people to visit parts of the nation that weren't affected by the hurricane.
"There are no words to convey the grief we feel for our fellow Bahamians in the Abacos and Grand Bahama," D’Aguilar said in a statement. "Now is the time to come together for our brothers and sisters in need, and help our country get back on its feet."
Tourism is the most important economic driver for the region and tourist dollars are desperately needed to fund the recovery effort. Prime Minister Hubert Minnis underpinned the message, saying, "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."
Nassau, the nation's largest city is still open and largely unaffected by the hurricane. Paradise Island, home to the sweeping Atlantis resort, is also welcoming tourists. Popular vacation spots like The Exumas, Cat Island, San Salvador, Rum Cay, Long Island, Harbour Island, Andros, The Biminis and The Berry Islands are also open for business, as well as Crooked Island, Mayaguana and Inagua.
Of course, if you can't travel, there are other ways to help like donating money to the Salvation Army, AmeriCares, Red Cross, World Central Kitchen and Mercy Corps. You can also donate directly Dorian-specific funds like Hurricane Dorian Relief Fund and the newly-established Grand Bahama Disaster Relief Foundation.