KINGSTON, Jamaica, September 4, 2019 (CMC) – Jamaica says it will use the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC) to mobilise resources, locally and internationally, to assist The Bahamas, following the devastation caused by the passage of Hurricane Dorian, earlier this week.
The Ministry of Tourism said that it would also be lobbying for further support from the international community, at the upcoming United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, from September 9-13.
Dorian, one of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record, hit the Caribbean island, late Sunday, as a Category 5 system, killing at least seven people and causing widespread devastation on Grand Bahama and the Abacos islands.
Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, said that the GTRCMC was established to respond to unfortunate occurrences like Dorian, which significantly impact the tourism industry within the Caribbean region.
He said the Centre was established to build resilience and capacity to withstand these disruptions, but more so, to enable quick recovery and ensure that the sector thrives in the aftermath.
“And so it is against that background that, today, we have begun the process from the Centre, to reach out to the global tourism community to mobilise resources to support … our neighbour.
“And so as the first step, I’ve been in touch with our colleague, Minister (Dionisio) D’Aguilar in The Bahamas, about the situation, overall; and the second response was to get to our local partner, which is the Jamaican homegrown tourism enterprise that has footprints all over the Caribbean, including The Bahamas,” he added.
Bartlett said the Sandals Foundation, which has already started to mobilise its own response, has agreed to partner with the Ministry and that he is also in discussions with another Caribbean enterprise, which will be coming on board.
Deputy Chairman of Sandals Resorts International and Chairman of the Tourism Linkages Council, Adam Stewart, said that the Foundation has sought assistance from its partners, including bankers, airlines and tour operators, and the support “has been rolling in”.
He said Mayberry Investments Limited has donated one million dollars and another partner has provided US$100,000 worth of cleaning supplies.
He said the Sandals Foundation “through the efforts of those who have supported us thus far, sent through our partner, the HeadKnowles Foundation in The Bahamas, US$10,000 worth of water as a first gesture to those in Abaco”.
He noted that the Sandals Foundation is also working with the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and other entities in The Bahamas.
Bartlett said he would be presenting the case for further collaboration with the GTRCMC, in order to strengthen its capacity to deal with vulnerabilities within the Caribbean, at next week’s UNWTO Conference.
“In the process, I will be supporting The Bahamas in their own recovery effort and … ensure that full appreciation of the extent of the damage and the extent of support that is required is realised by all of the partners, who will be coming from about 120 countries from across the world, to the meeting in St. Petersburg,” he said.
Bartlett said that the Centre will not affect the work of other recovery agencies and activities within the region, as the facility’s efforts are focused on tourism recovery.
“Our focus is going to be on how we enable the tourism sector, within these areas that are impacted, to recover quickly and to thrive thereafter. And I wanted to make that point, because we are going to be working very closely with the CDEMA in our regional arrangement,” he said.
Meanwhile, cruise lines that call at The Bahamas, and also those that consider the area home, have announced support for the initiatives to help in the recovery exercise.
Royal Caribbean said it is committing one million US dollars to the Dorian disaster relief; and its partner in its Holistica destination development venture, ITM, is donating another US$100,000.
Royal said it would also match every dollar that its guests and employees donate to the Pan American Development Foundation, its non-profit partner.
“The Bahamas has always been more than a destination for Royal Caribbean and our guests,” the cruise line said in a statement announcing the donation. “So, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, we’re rolling up our sleeves to help our friends, and inviting our guests to help.”
Carnival Corporation, which has two major projects in the Bahamas, including Half Moon Cay, said it remains “fully committed to those projects as part of the recovery and rebuilding process”.
The Walt Disney Company, led by Disney Cruise Line, which has its own private island, Castaway Cay, in the Bahamas, also pledged a million US dollars to help with the relief and recovery efforts in the Bahamas.
“We stand with the Bahamian people, and especially those in Abaco and Grand Bahama, as they recover from the worst storm to ever make landfall in The Bahamas. As the needs in these communities are assessed, we are prepared to aid the relief and recovery efforts, through funding, the provision of supplies, and by providing support to our Bahamian crew members,” Disney Cruise Line’s President, Jeff Vahle, said in a statement.