By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Ministry of Tourism will intensify its marketing efforts to let the world know that the Bahamas is “still open for business” after Hurricane Joaquin, as it moves to assist hard-hit Family Island resort operators with re-opening.
Speaking with Tribune Business outside the Cabinet Office yesterday, Obie Wilchcombe, minister of tourism, told Tribune Business: “We have to work with Club Med and other smaller resorts in the other islands, whether it’s a bonefishing lodge on Crooked Islands or in Acklins, or wherever they are.
“We have to work with Long Island, with all of them to ensure that they can reopen as quickly as possible for the season. We understand that they have taken a serious blow right now.
“The Government is working with them, and the Ministry of Tourism is directly involved. We have received from all the properties now in the affected islands, the amount of damage. The director-general of tourism is leading a team preparing to assist because that’s important to us.”
Club Med told Tribune Business earlier this week that it had postponed the re-opening of its San Salvador resort by two months until December 20 to allow for Hurricane Joaquin repairs.
The resort’s operator said that Columbus Isle’s planned re-opening had been pushed back from October 18 to just before Christmas 2015 due to the damage inflicted by the Category Four storm’s 130 mile per hour winds.
Apart from damage to the hotel itself, Club Med indicated that the devastation inflicted on San Salvador’s airport, utilities and communications infrastructure also played a role in its postponement decision.
Mr Wilchcombe said that ensuring the world knows the rest of the Bahamas is still open for business is critically important.
“It’s critically important to intensify our marketing so that the world knows that the Bahamas is still open for business, particularly in the areas of the capital, Grand Bahama, Bimini and all the other islands not affected, and also send the message that we are getting the other islands ready for early opening, early meaning like December,” said Mr Wilchcombe.
“What’s important is that many of our stakeholders in and outside of the Bahamas have already expressed support and are assisting in helping us get the message out.
“Our job is to get the massage out that we are still open for business but, at the same time, we are working assiduously to get the other islands open.”