The record high tourist arrivals The Bahamas had been tracking over the past year are likely to “significantly” trend in the opposite direction following Hurricane Dorian, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday.
D’Aguilar, who was speaking to reporters following a National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) press conference, said The Bahamas will experience a significant downturn in foreign visitors after Dorian has passed.
He said that while the center of the country’s tourism market, New Providence, remains unscathed, the Ministry of Tourism will likely have to put together campaigns explaining to the world that while Grand Bahama and Abaco might have been devastated by Hurricane Dorian, the remainder of The Bahamas is open for business.
“When we refer to the devastation that’s happening in Abaco and Grand Bahama, people will assume that’s the entire Bahamas,” said D’Aguilar.
“Nassau, the economic hub, will emerge relatively unscathed.”
But he continued to tout Grand Bahama and Abaco as significant to the country’s tourism product.
“Of course there are enormous concerns given the severity of the storm, the size of the storm and the expected level of devastation,” he said.
“Grand Bahama and Abaco are major sources of visitors to our country and we expect there to be catastrophic damage to the infrastructure there…and certainly for a number of months at least, at minimum, we expect a significant decrease of foreign visitors there.”
D’Aguilar explained, though, that Abaco’s large market of second home owners will likely quickly assess and rebuild their properties.
“We expect that to bounce back quickly,” D’Aguilar said.
According to him, about 20,000 cruise passengers avoided The Bahamas because of the impending storm, adding another component to the economic hit caused by Hurricane Dorian.