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Although Hurricane Dorian decimated the northwestern Bahamas, leaving tens of thousands of Bahamians homeless and catastrophic destruction in its wake, many of the country’s southern islands were fortunately spared by the storm. In an effort to provide aid to their ravaged neighboring communities, numerous resorts on Nassau, Paradise Island, the Exumas, and more are heading up fundraising and relief initiatives.
Take, for example, Atlantis Paradise Island, which has pledged $3 million to relief efforts and has joined forces with celebrity chef José Andrés, an American Express Global Dining Collection partner, and his World Central Kitchen charity to deliver food and supplies to Abaco, Grand Bahama, and other affected areas. The mega-resort also organized a Hurricane Dorian Relief Fund with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Bahamas Red Cross.
Luxury development Baha Mar has donated $2 million to island recovery and is spearheading ‘Pack With Love,’ a campaign to encourage visitors of their Grand Hyatt, SLS, and Rosewood properties to pack extra items for donation like baby essentials, clothing, and comforting toys—the resort delivers necessities to shelters in Nassau daily.
“Our hearts are heavy with sadness and loss over Hurricane Dorian’s path of destruction and damage to our beloved nation and its people,” Graeme Davis, the president of Baha Mar, told Travel + Leisure. “Now is the time to come together and support those who need our help, especially in The Abacos and Grand Bahama.”
Meanwhile on Great Exuma, Grand Isle Resort & Spa is offering a ‘Bahamas Strong’ package (available through December 2020) to “support our brothers and sisters in the northern islands,” as included in an official statement. A portion of booking funds will be donated to recovery efforts including the Red Cross to help with urgent needs of clean water, food, and shelter.
Additionally, the resort is organizing a drive where guests can donate extra clothing and supplies. “Our hope is that our contribution will help families in their time of need, and we appreciate the support from our guests and our hotel staff in helping the northern Bahamas recover.”
The soon-to-debut Caerula Mar, a boutique retreat opening on South Andros Island in November, was founded by Bryan and Sarah Baeumler. The celebrity couple (of HGTV Canada fame) created a GoFundMe campaign and will be matching donations. More than $165,000 has been raised so far, which will be distributed among several local organizations and nonprofits.
And more than just luxury resorts are stepping up to offer lifelines. The cruise industry has pledged millions to aid recovery efforts, while several major cruise lines—including Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, and Royal Caribbean—will also be sending stocked ships to Freeport in the coming weeks to distribute food, water, and medical supplies. “We can't make every bad memory of Dorian go away. But we can start making things better—today,” Royal Caribbean announced.
Still, with the inflow of disaster relief efforts being implemented, the long road to recovery relies heavily on tourism, the country’s biggest industry. Though most of the archipelago remains fully operational, hotel and tour operators have already reported severe declines in business. Now, more than ever, Bahamas Tourism needs your support.
One of the best ways to make an impact that will directly affect the local economy is by booking a trip. “People around the world can show their support and solidarity… visit our other islands by air or by cruise ship,” as stated by Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minis in the Associated Press.
There’s a local outcry to reinforce this message: the majority of our islands are open for business and visitors are desperately needed. A recent post from Atlantis touts a ‘Travel For Love’ graphic with a “Come to paradise and help heal the Bahamas” caption.
“We are still a beautiful tourism destination," shared June Dean from the Harbour Island Tourist Office. “Unfortunately, our sister islands, Abaco and Grand Bahama, were totally devastated in the storm. But we are still open, we are still beautiful.”
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism has been promoting relief efforts on social media through #BahamasStrong messaging over the country's black, yellow, and aquamarine flag. Last week, they publicized a powerful new flier: a map of the Bahamas with all the unaffected islands highlighted in yellow. “Together, we’re stronger. Let us return the love you've shown us by welcoming you the only way we know how—with open arms,” the Instagram post says.
So, if swimming with the world-famous pigs of Exuma is on your travel bucket list, why wait? Or, if you’d like to explore the white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters of a lesser-known, but equally as alluring, Bahamian destination—like Cat Island or San Salvador—there’s never been a better time to do so.
And if you can’t make it to the Bahamas, consider donating to one of the aforementioned initiatives or reputable relief causes such as the Bahamas Red Cross, Humane Society of Grand Bahama, International Medical Corps, or World Central Kitchen.