The cruise industry has pledged to help “broadcast the message that most of The Bahamas is open” after raising $8m for Hurricane Dorian relief and recovery efforts.
The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), in a statement, said its member lines such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean - who together account for 95 percent of global industry capacity - have invested “hundreds of thousands of marketing dollars focused on educating that most of The Bahamas is open”.
Echoing the Ministry of Tourism’s message that the best way to aid post-Dorian recovery is for travellers to visit The Bahamas, the FCCA added that the industry has provided more than 10m pounds of food and supplies, and 20,000 meals a day, in relief as well as “hundreds of millions of dollars in accelerated investment plans”.
That likely refers to the $100m Carnival cruise port, for which the Government has now signed a Heads of Agreement, plus the ITM Group/Royal Caribbean negotiations to acquire the Grand Lucayan and redevelop Freeport Harbour in a $195m first phase project. Combined, the FCCA said the two projects represented $455m in investment.
“Though we still mourn for all those impacted in Abaco and Grand Bahama, it is humbling and heartwarming to see our member lines’ enormous effort to not only provide the necessary relief, but also work with those in the destination toward sustainable recovery,” said Michele Paige the FCCA’s president.
“On behalf of FCCA, we are honoured to help support that recovery in any way we can, and currently one of the best things any of us can do is visit The Bahamas, as nearly half of its GDP relies on tourism, and broadcast the message that most of its islands are open and welcoming guests every day.”
The FCCA added that Carnival had filled more than 250 shipping containers with relief supplies, while Royal Caribbean has provided 20,000 meals per day in addition to water, medical supplies, generators and a team of specially-trained employees and volunteers to assist with logistics and food and beverage efforts.
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, it said, has donated 400 pallets of humanitarian aid – along with 300 qualified volunteers and 150 Bahamians – on a single relief mission. Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) Group is using its cargo and cruise resources to help, with a focus on providing semi-permanent prefabricated modular housing. Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings have also been using their cruise ships to deliver supplies and support.
The FCCA added that its members have also moved to relaunch cruise tourism in Dorian’s wake, noting that its previous research showed the industry had a $405.75m economic impact for The Bahamas during the 2017-2018 season.
Its economic impact assessment showed the sector generated 9,004 Bahamian jobs paying $155.71m in wage income, with an average cruise ship call producing more than $650,000 in economic benefits,
The cruise lines also said they have included The Bahamas in their marketing campaign, Caribbean Is Open/Caribbean for Everyone, which launched in September 2017 following hurricanes Irma and Maria. It has generated more than 5.77bn impressions, while showing improvement in Caribbean cruise bookings between October 2, 2017, to October 28, 2018.
For initiatives tied to The Bahamas, the FCCA said that as of October 11 these marketing efforts have already generated an audience of 78.656m; 490 media placements; and promoted content with 13,873 clicks, 17,987 engagements and 150,527 video views with 59,357 minutes viewed.
It added that the initiative is on track for more than 200,000 views by the end of October on social media. Other planned initiatives including the cover story in Travel & Cruise, the official magazine of the cruise industry, and sponsored e-mail content in partnership with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).