Jamaica minister of tourism, Edmund Bartlett, has said the Jamaican-based Global Tourism Resilience & Crisis Management Centre has begun to mobilise resources to assist the Bahamas following the devastating effects of hurricane Dorian.
The category five hurricane hit the island nation earlier this week bringing winds of up to 185 miles per hour.
The International Red Cross fears 45 per cent of homes on Grand Bahama and the Abacos - some 13,000 properties - were severely damaged or destroyed.
At present, the death toll from the incident stands at 30 – however, this is expected to rise significantly.
Officials are sending morticians and 200 body bags to the Abaco Islands, the worst-hit part of the archipelago.
Hundreds, possibly thousands, of people are still missing in the Abacos and Grand Bahama.
Dorian is now battering the coasts of South and North Carolina in the United States, but is weakening.
Global Tourism Resilience & Crisis Management Centre
Speaking at a media briefing at the Jamaica Tourist Board’s New Kingston office today, the minister stated: “We have begun the process, from the centre, to reach out to the global tourism community, to mobilise resources to support the effort of bringing back the economies of our neighbour, as well as, to bring tourism resources.”
He also shared news that the centre has been in touch with minister of tourism in Bahamas, Dionisio D’Aguilar, to discuss the state of the industry and the nature of help that is required.
Following this conversation, the minister contacted regional and international partners who are specifically involved in tourism development, to assist the Bahamas in the redevelopment of the tourism industry.
“We are now moving to get in touch with our partners such as major hotels, airlines and all major tour operators who are beneficiaries from tourism and who can in fact provide resource support to enable recovery in countries which are vulnerable and can be impacted,” said Bartlett.
The minister noted that one such local partner is the Sandals Resorts International, which has already, began a response mechanism through the SRI Foundation.
Speaking at the press conference, deputy chairman of Sandals Resorts International, Adam Stewart shared that: “All three of the Sandals properties in the Bahamas have been unaffected which gives us the opportunity to focus on recovery and assisting however we can.
“We are proud to be working with the government of Jamaica and the Global Tourism Resilience & Crisis Management Centre to help our neighbouring island of the Bahamas who parts of which were badly affects by hurricane Dorian.”
Stewart added: “This morning the foundation, through the efforts of those who have supported us thus far, donated US$10,000 worth of water, as a first gesture to those in Abaco, through our partner the Bahamian non-profit group HeadKnowles.
“A partner of Sandals has also donated US$100,000 worth of cleaning material which we will also be collecting in the next 48 hours.”
Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association
The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association is appealing to its membership, travel industry partners, national hotel and tourism associations and all Caribbean tourism interests to support the islands of the north-western Bahamas following the devastation wrought by Dorian.
Director General Frank Comito made the appeal after being briefed by the Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association and the Bahamas ministry of tourism on how relief can be best provided for the people of the Bahamas as response operations begin and the extent of the damage assessed.
The association is advising the industry to be prepared to provide two stages of support for the ravaged areas, beginning with the immediate humanitarian needs over the coming weeks.
The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association has provided members with details as to how they can support immediate efforts with cash and urgent supply donations. Cash contributions are being directed through the Bahamas Red Cross.
Collections points for emergency relief supplies have been established throughout southern Florida and in Nassau, Bahamas through several initiatives by the Bahamas government, the Miami-Dade County government and Sandals Foundation.
Carnival Corporation has partnered with Tropical Shipping and the Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency to collect and deliver NEMA-approved food and supplies donated in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties for the people of the country.
Carnival Corporation is partnering with Tropical Shipping, which will serve as an approved clearinghouse and distribution centre for non-profit organisations, schools, businesses and residents of Broward County, Miami-Dade County and Palm Beach County to expedite timely delivery of donated food and goods collected in the local South Florida community.
The effort, funded by both companies, will work in partnership with NEMA to provide immediate assistance to the people of the Bahamas where it is most needed.
Tropical Shipping, which has provided freight shipping to and from the Caribbean and the Bahamas for over 50 years, will stock and then ship and directly deliver the containers to NEMA in the Bahamas.
Carnival, along with its nine cruise line brands, will cover shipping costs, as well as provide food and supplies as part of the overall effort.
“We have received an outpouring of calls and emails from concerned individuals, local leaders, non-profit groups and the South Florida business community asking how they can provide support to the Bahamas,” said Arnold Donald, chief executive of Carnival Corporation.
“By working together, we can collectively provide much-needed food and supplies to people in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane.”
Added Donald: “This is the first part of many efforts to provide support and assistance to the Bahamas where it is most needed.”
Sandals Resorts International has established a campaign page for donations.
Head over to the official website for more information.
Image: Miami Herald/TNS/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images