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When the Bahamas was hit by Hurricane Dorian last year, the images of destruction horrified people around the world. But, severe as the damage was, only a small part of the archipelago nation was affected, and one of the best ways to help with recovery efforts is to spend tourist dollars there, explains Nazma Muller

  • Forty miles northwest of New Providence, the Berry Islands are relatively undeveloped and slightly off the beaten track — perfect for visitors looking for unspoiled seclusion. It’s a coveted spot for big game fishing, while scuba divers and snorkeller
  • Eleuthera, accessible via a fast ferry from Nassau, is known for its broad pink sand beaches and the natural wonder known as the Glass Window Bridge. Here a narrow peninsula, just thirty feet across at one point, divides the deep blue of the Atlantic from
  • Near the centre of the Bahamas archipelago, Cat Island boasts the country’s highest point, Mount Alvernia, all of 207 feet above sea level — and is one of the best places in the world to experience a close encounter with the rare Oceanic Whitetip Shar
  • Colourful baskets are a typical souvenir on sale at the famous Straw Market in Nassau, capital of the Bahamas. Jon Arnold Images Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

There’s a reason six million people visit the Bahamas annually. Well, seven hundred reasons, really — that’s the number of islands in the Bahamas, surrounded by the clearest water in the world. The archipelago’s stunning beauty has made it one of the most famous vacation destinations on the planet, and the island chain was on track to celebrate one of its best years in tourism, when Hurricane Dorian hit in September 2019.

The strongest recorded storm ever to hit the Bahamas, Dorian wreaked havoc on the northern end of the archipelago, first making landfall in the Abaco Islands on 1 September before moving westwards over Grand Bahama, location of the country’s second-largest city, Freeport. At least sixty-five people were killed and as many as seventy thousand left homeless. The cost of this devastation is estimated at US$7 billion — a catastrophic blow to the national economy.

Full recovery will take years, but for a country so heavily dependent on tourism, rebuilding and repairs to hotels and other tourist facilities is a priority, alongside houses, schools, and vital infrastructure. Progress has been particularly quick in Grand Bahama — according to a report at the start of November last year, just two months after the hurricane, more than seventy percent of the island’s hotel rooms were ready to receive visitors, and locals hope the start of the tourism high season will bring an infusion of income needed to fund further repairs.

“Please keep travelling to the Bahamas,” implored tourism deputy director-general Ellison Thompson in the immediate aftermath of Dorian, unveiling a campaign to promote fourteen destination islands unaffected by the hurricane. “Please come and enjoy your stay, and if you can, please spend an extra US$50 a day to aid with the reconstruction of the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama.”

Simply booking a vacation is one of the most effective ways to support post-hurricane recovery, say industry insiders. As Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar put it, “Travellers can do something for the Bahamas by doing nothing on one of our beaches. Plan a trip to Nassau, Paradise Island, and the Out Islands. Our beautiful island nation is ready to welcome you.”

So has there ever been a better time to visit? Acklins and Crooked Island, Andros, the Berry Islands, Bimini, Cat Island, Eleuthera and Harbour Island, the Exumas, Inagua, Long Island, Mayaguana, Nassau and Paradise Island, Rugged Island, Rum Cay, and San Salvador are all open to welcome you. And your weekend escape, business conference, wedding, honeymoon, reunion, retreat, or family vacation will help the country’s efforts in rebuilding Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands.

With so many options, where should you start? The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism has an online Island Finder tool to help you narrow it down: Flip the toggles to say what type of vacation you’re looking for — relaxing or action-packed, flip-flops or high heels, popular spots or hidden gems, family or couples, boutique lodge or resort — and your recommendations will pop up.

So if you already have a booking for a trip, please keep it. If you’re considering a trip, go ahead and book it. The Bahamas needs you now more than ever. And with every fun activity you tick off your itinerary, you’ll be sure you’re playing a part in helping this Caribbean nation along its path to recovery.

Caribbean Airlines operates direct flights to Lynden Pindling International Airport in the Bahamas, with connections to other destinations in the Caribbean and North and South America

Funding provided by the 11th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme Direct Support Grants Programme.
The views expressed on this website are those of the the authors and do not reflect those of the Direct Support Grants Programme.