Hurricane Dorian Causes Billions in Damages to the Bahamas

September 10, 2019

Last week, Hurricane Dorian tore through the Caribbean and up the Southeastern Coast of the U.S., causing major damage all along the way. Two islands in particular, Abaco Island and Grand Bahama, faced huge devastation as a result of the tropical storm. According to the United Nations, more than 70,000 people in the Bahamas are now homeless and in need of food and water. (Click here to view a list of vetted relief organizations that are currently seeking donations.)

Analysts estimate that Hurricane Dorian could cost insurers anywhere from $7 billion to $25 billion in losses, although it’s impossible to know the exact amount at this time. Along with the immediate damage caused by the storm, some Bahamians also worry about the future of the region’s $4.3 billion tourism industry. Responsible for well over 50 percent of its GDP, tourism is vital to the Bahamian economy. If tourists become afraid of traveling to the region, it could deal long term economic damage to the Bahamas while also harming its current relief efforts. 

That’s why Bahamian officials want people to know that much of the region remains open for business. “In order for the reconstruction to happen, we would need our visitors to keep coming, so taxes can be used to aid in the reconstruction of those two islands [Abaco and Grand Bahama, where Dorian hit],” said Ellison Thompson of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. Although the storm dealt significant damage to the Bahamas’ northern islands, the southern portion of the archipelago wasn’t hit nearly as hard. “The whole thing here is speed,” said Robertico Croes, a tourism expert from the University of Central Florida. “The quicker they can convince everybody that the southern part has not been affected and business can go on there and, as a matter of fact, it’s a good thing for business to go there, then [the faster] the south can help the north.” 

Questions:

  1. Why is tourism such a vital industry to the Bahamas?
  2. How can tourism provide help with relief efforts in the Bahamas?

Sources: “Hurricane Dorian Could Cost Insurers $25 Billion, UBS Says,” Reuters, September 2, 2019; Chabeli Herrera, “After Hurricane Dorian, the Bahamas Prepares for Another Hit — to Its Crucial Tourism Industry,” Orlando Sentinel, September 8, 2019.

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