ORLANDO, Fla. — Relief continues to pour in for the Bahamas after the devastation from Hurricane Dorian. But Bahamian leaders are asking for more than just supplies.
- Much of the tourism in the Bahamas is in the south
- Southern islands were largely spared Dorian's devastation
- COMPLETE COVERAGE: Hurricane Dorian
Travel Advisor Tyneshia Perine has been to the Bahamas many times.
“I have a lifetime wellness group sailing out of Port Canaveral on the Mariner of the Seas on November 12, and one of our stops is the Bahamas,” Perine said.
But after the devastation left behind by Hurricane Dorian, she’s had anxious clients calling her asking whether they should cancel.
“They called me and I said, 'nope we’re still going guys, we’re still going,' and they said 'OK, no problem!'” Perine said.
Dr. Robertico Croes with UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management says tourism is the lifeblood of the Bahamian economy.
“Close to 60 percent of their economy is tourism,” Dr. Croes said.
While the destruction was widespread, Dr. Croes says it was confined to the northern islands.
“Because 70 percent of both the population and the tourism industry lies towards the south,” Croes said.
That’s why Bahamian government leaders have encouraged tourists to continue to frequent their islands. Croes says if the tourism slows down, so does the Bahamas' ability to recover.
“Otherwise you’ll have, on top of the natural human suffering and disaster, you will have an economic and financial disaster if people think that the whole Bahamas have been devastated,” Dr. Croes said.
Perine says in her travels she’s seen just how much the people’s livelihood depends on visits.
“They need the money, they need us to come off and buy things and spend in their shops and all their restaurants,” Perine said.
Croes adds the Bahamas can’t rebuild with international aid alone. He says those dollars spent in the southern islands will be crucial to rebuilding the northern ones.