Tourism: Dorian Loss Is 'Unprecedented'

Tuesday, 19 November 2019 00:00 Admin
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The Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) yesterday said Hurricane Dorian had inflicted an "unprecedented economic loss" on Abaco, and the island will take time to recover.

The Association, in a brief statement to Tribune Business on behalf of its president, Carlton Russell, said it was "fully aware" that reconstruction following the category five storm will be protracted with the financial "sting" felt throughout the country during September.

Speaking directly to the post-Dorian impact assessment conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and other multilateral agencies, it said "The Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) recognises the unprecedented economic loss felt by our productive sector, primarily in Abaco, due to Hurricane Dorian.

"The financial reverberations within our tourism economy were not limited to the islands and cays of Abaco and Grand Bahama, as most tourism-related businesses throughout the archipelago felt the financial 'sting' particularly in the month of September."

The joint Dorian assessment conducted by the IDB, together with the United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and global health bodies, said: "Losses for the productive sector were estimated at approximately $400.3m. Abaco suffered 83.8 percent of those losses.

"Tourism accounted for most of the losses at 81.2 percent and suffered the greatest effects. This sector suffered a loss of $325.2m. The productive sector suffered damage estimated to be $620.9m, most of them in tourism at $529.6m."

Charles Johnson, a Bahamas Insurance Association (BIA) representative, last week told the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) that 86 percent of the industry's losses were in Abaco. He addd that the Baker's Bay Golf & Ocean Resort on Great Guana Cay, with an estimated insurance value between $800m to $1bn, potentially accounts for up to 50 percent of all damages.

The IDB report further added: "Hurricane Dorian impacted two major tourist destinations of The Bahamas, and disrupted the tourist flows for several days before and after the storm in the rest of the archipelago.

"The hurricane also caused significant damage to tourism infrastructure on Abaco and in East End, Grand Bahama. In some locations the damage was catastrophic. The total damage in the tourist sector was $530m. A large majority of the damage occurred on Abaco.

"On this occasion the forecasted losses are less than the damage and amount to $325m. They are related to the disruption in the flow of tourists as result of the storm and a changed public perception due to the damaged structures. Most of the losses will be accrued in the high season of 2019 and 2020, tapering off as the recovery is expected to gain momentum."

The BHTA said yesterday: "We are fully aware Abaco will take time to recover. We commend the incredible efforts of the private and public sector to restore essential services, rebuild homes, open businesses and government offices where and when possible in both residential and highly-saturated tourism centres.

"Private and public sector tourism officials and stakeholders such as the Ministry of Tourism and the varying promotion boards - Nassau/Paradise Island Promotion Board (NPIPB), Bahamas Out Island Promotion Board (BOIPB), Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board (GBITB) - continue to espouse the attributes of The Bahamas and the fact that the areas affected are making monumental strides in a comparatively timely manner to build back better.

"As a destination The Bahamas is blessed with a unique tourism product that allows us, on one hand, to welcome visitors to our shores and, with the other, help our fellow Bahamians in Abaco and Grand Bahama who were impacted by Dorian," it continued.

"One cannot happen without the other. Therefore we are most pleased with the collaborative efforts of these industry partners to continue to promote the destination and remind the world 'The Bahamas is open for business'."

By YOURI KEMP
The Tribune
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Caption:
A Bahamas flag flies tied to a sapling, amidst the rubble left by Hurricane Dorian in Abaco in September. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)