BHTA president: Impact “unfortunate but anticipated”
NASSAU,BAHAMAS- Tourism industry stakeholders are reporting that forward bookings in the wake of Hurricane Dorian has ‘softened’ when compared to the same period last year.
According to the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), its membership including those in the hotel sector, have reported that “the pace of forward bookings has softened, in some cases significantly, when compared to bookings for the same period last year”. The Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA) represents the interests of the country’s leading hotels and a large allied membership of companies that support the industry.
In an interview with Eyewitness News Online, BHTA president Carlton Russell said: “A number of factors, including the severity of the impact of Dorian on Grand Bahama and Abaco, the subsequent widespread coverage and the lack of understanding of Bahama Islands geography, has resulted in a marked impact on business, which is unfortunate but not unanticipated. This is certainly the case for Nassau, Paradise Island.”
Russell said: “Many tourism businesses in our family islands, the majority of which were also wholly untouched by Dorian, close during this period as part of their regular business operation. The immediate impact is negligible in these scenarios, however going forward it is expected that they too will feel some softening in bookings for the coming months.”
Tourism stakeholders, in communication with the BHTA have stressed the need to ensure internal and external communicators including international media, press, social media platforms, influencers, newspaper outlets, have access to, and relay accurate information about the impact of Hurricane Dorian on The Bahamas including the specificity of islands affected.
“It is vital that the world market understand The Bahamas, which is an archipelago comprised of over 700 islands spread over 100,000 square miles of ocean, remains largely untouched by the passing of Hurricane Dorian,” Russell continued.
“It is even more important to relay the message that the influx of tourism dollars is the best form of aid and relief anyone can offer the people of The Bahamas affected by Hurricane Dorian.”
He said: “The mantra, “we are our brothers and sisters keeper” could not be more real as locals in and outside the hospitality industry, welcome with open arms, displaced friends and relatives, even strangers, into their own homes; as hardworking public sector representatives house grateful evacuees, effectively and efficiently in government run shelters; as the tourism sector owners and operators of tourism dependent businesses; their management and team members engage in ongoing relief efforts and initiatives. The sheer magnitude of the assistance rendered locally and internationally has been unbelievable, we are eternally grateful.”
Russell said the road to recovery for areas affected in Abaco and Grand Bahama is now being paved.
He said: “We have been asked, how can the world help in a sustainable manner? The answer is unequivocal: By coming to our shores to enjoy the beauty of our islands, the warmth of our people, the flavor of our food and drink, our unique culture, customs, music and art.
“This way the world is helping us to help ourselves,” Russell added.