The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) has set up a relief fund to support the Bahamas after the island nation was ravaged by Hurricane Dorian.
The Bahamas has felt the full force of Dorian over several days, bringing high winds and heavy rains which have resulted in severe flooding and widespread damage.
At least seven people are understood to have died as a result of the storm, but the island’s prime minister has warned this figure is likely to rise.
The CTO on Tuesday (3 September) pledged its full support for the Bahamas, adding it had reactivated its hurricane relief fund in the wake of the “monstrous storm”.
“The CTO expresses our deepest regret and sadness over the loss of life and damage done to the Abacos and Grand Bahama Island by dangerous category 5 hurricane Dorian,” said the organisation. “We have witnessed the pain of those who lost loved ones, the agony of so many who lost their homes and all their belongings, and the angst of an entire Caribbean concerned for the welfare of the people of these islands.
“However, as has been demonstrated so many times in the past, we have weathered many storms. We are a resilient people who refuse to surrender even in the most difficult of times, and we are confident the people of the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama, with the full support of the islands of the Bahamas and the Caribbean tourism family, will navigate the road to recovery together and emerge stronger.”
The CTO said the greatest impact from Dorian had been felt in the northernmost islands of Abacos and Grand Bahama. The fund has so far raised nearly $22,000.
Royal Caribbean has pledged $1 million to the Pan American Development Foundation’s (PADF) Hurricane Dorian Relief Campaign while its joint venture partner ITM, with whom Royal has working on a resort development in Freeport, has pledged a further $100,000.
“The Bahamas has always been more than a destination for Royal Caribbean and our guests,” said Royal. “For more than half a century, we have made many friends and many memories. The Bahamas is also home to more than 500 hundred of our colleagues at Perfect Day at CocoCay and the Grand Bahama Shipyard.”
Royal said it partnered with the PADF and the Bahamian government to best distribute donations and aid, adding its ships would delivery generators, clean water, cleaning supplies and other essentials to the nation. It has also pledged to match every dollar donated by guests or employees.
Carnival Corp chief executive Arnold Donald added: “Our hearts go out to those who have lost friends and loved ones, and whose homes and businesses have been damaged or destroyed.
“Knowing and working over many years with so many Bahamians, we have long admired the strong spirit, determination and love of life they exhibit. We look forward to supporting their forthcoming hard work to rebuild, recover and again welcome tourists and cruise guests with open arms to their beautiful country.
“To our friends in The Bahamas, please know you will not be alone in your effort. All of us at Carnival Corporation pledge to work with you. We have been and remain in constant contact with government officials as they determine the highest priorities for both the short term and long term.”
Donald added the line remained “fully committed” to its two major projects on Grand Bahama and at Half Moon Cay.
Dorian steered away from the Bahamas late on Tuesday and into the early hours of Wednesday as it approaches the US mainland.
While it has weakened to a category two storm, Dorian has grown larger and is still expected to bring winds in excess of 100mph to the US.
The US states of Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina, have declared states of emergency and enforced mandatory evacuation orders.
A number of airlines have temporarily suspended operations to Orlando, or consolidated flights to make best use of breaks in the storm.
Meanwhile, various high profile tourist attractions, such as Walt Disney World, adjusted their operating hours to guard against the weather.