The “normal” tourist will not visit Marsh Harbour “for a while”, owner of the Sandpiper Inn Dr. Larry Carroll told Guardian Business yesterday, likening the state of the area and some of the cays to a post-war zone.
Carroll, who said he has had a few leisure tourists visit since Hurricane Dorian decimated parts of Abaco, is not yet convinced that tourists will flock to Abaco again just yet.
“The mere fact that Marsh Harbour and most of the cays still look like a post-war location, I don’t anticipate we will get a lot of people rushing to come,” Carroll said
The Ministry of Tourism and Aviation (MOTA) yesterday released a list of hotels that are now back in operation since the storm, which includes The Abaco Club on Winding Bay, The Sandpiper Inn, The Delphi Club, The Blackfly bonefish lodges, Abaco Breeze, Oeisha’s Resort, Pete and Gay’s Guest House, Moore’s Island Bonefish Lodge and R&S Motel, Abaco Hillside Plaza, Calypso Hills Hideaways and Abaco Inn on Elbow Cay, Abaco Beach Resort and Marina in Marsh Harbour, James Inn, M&M Hotel, Millie’s Guest House, Linton’s Cottages, Cay’s Resort Ltd., Cooper’s Cove Guest House, Joleeka’s Motel, Josey Wales Sporting Lounge & Motel and Sassy Cassie Motel.
“The Abacos are also seeing tremendous progress from a handful of popular hotels and resorts as they have set reopening dates for Spring 2020, including Firefly Sunset Resort, Green Turtle Club Resort and Marina and others,” the MOTA noted in its release.
It added: “Bahamasair is offering regular flights from Nassau to Marsh Harbour daily and to Treasure Cay four times a week. The airline also has direct flights from West Palm Beach, Florida to Marsh Harbour on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.”
Silver Airways has also resumed its service from Fort Lauderdale into Marsh Harbour; this paper understands that American Airlines is scheduled to begin flying in to the island once again tomorrow.
Carroll said the renewed airlift will likely be a driver of restoration and construction for locals, but is cautiously optimistic about the return of the leisure traveller.
He explained that the Sandpiper Inn was largely spared from destruction because of its location in South Abaco.
According to Carroll, his hotel and others therefore became accommodation for recovery volunteers and restoration workers.
“Luckily we were there because… we have been putting up a lot of those insurance adjusters and Americare people who were on the ground for a while,” he said.
He said some “regular guests” have passed through to do some bonefishing. He said guests are coming down to the inn for Valentine’s Day this Friday.
Carroll, however, lamented the dangers of remaining open following the storm when only cash was being circulated throughout Abaco because of the lack of banking infrastructure and internet to process credit cards.
“It was cash only and of course you know that’s dangerous, so you had to have armed guards around the place to protect you,” he said. “You were a moving target for a while.”
Carroll said once Abaconians and second-home owners can finally cut through government’s red tape and workers return to the island, recovery will move along quickly.
“Bureaucracy is holding things up,” he said.
“ As soon as the red tape and bureaucracy gets pulled out of the way, the rebuilding will start pretty quickly. It’s bureaucracy not making for a quick turnaround.”