By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Bahamian tourism industry will lose some $325m over the three-year period required to make a "full recovery" from Hurricane Dorian, a newly-published study has revealed.
A 218-page Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report, representing a full analysis of the category five storm's impact, said 85.2 percent of this sum represented the loss of Abaco's stopover visitor market due the extent of the devastation on that island.
Describing these "losses" as disruption in tourism flows due to Dorian's passing, coupled with perceptions about the damage and loss of key infrastructure, the report said New Providence and Grand Bahama collectively accounted for just $47m of the $325m figure.
It added that the losses suffered by Grand Bahama were far less than those incurred from Hurricane Matthew, which is likely due to the fact that much of the island's room inventory was already off-line due to the Grand Lucayan's closure.
"Full recovery is assumed to occur by September 2022, even though some of the infrastructure destroyed may never recover, particularly those uninsured small properties," the IDB document, seen by Tribune Business, said.
"The total losses over a three-year period, starting in September 2019, are $325m. These losses are heavily concentrated in stopover visitors to Abaco, representing about 85.2 percent of total losses. The losses in New Providence amount to $28m, while the losses for Grand Bahama are forecasted to be $19m.
"The remainder of the losses will be accrued in the rest of the Out Islands, which is the result of the disruption in the flow of tourists. These islands can expect to see a minor positive impact due to the diversion of tourists that otherwise would have gone to Abaco," the study continued.
"Most of the losses will be accrued in the high season of 2019 and 2020, tapering off as the recovery is expected to gain momentum. It is crucial to bring back anchor properties as soon as possible. After the recovery of the key infrastructure and services, room capacity will be the limiting factor in tourism recovery."
All Dorian-related losses suffered by New Providence's tourism industry were incurred during the period August to September 2019 as a result of the disruption to tourism flows coming into The Bahamas. Some 47 percent, or $13.374m, of these losses represented room revenues foregone.
"Grand Bahama was impacted directly by the storm," the IDB study added. "However, the damage is far less than that from Hurricane Matthew. The total expected losses are $19m - about $10.5m due to the loss of stopover visitors, and $9m from cruise visitors. There are also some minor losses due to day visitors.
"A large fraction of the visitors to Grand Bahama comes from cruises. Many cruises were diverted or canceled, and in some occasions the cruise ships were used to provide relief. The recovery faces an important challenge regarding the recovery of the Grand Bahama International Airport which suffered severe damage."
As for Abaco, Dorian is expected to cost its tourism industry some $271.09m over the next three years, with some $171m coming from room revenues alone. "This is the biggest category of spending in the Out Islands, and particularly in a place like Abaco with relatively high-end visitors," the IDB study said.
"The losses in meals and drinks are estimated at $32m, followed by the losses in activities at $22m. Among the most important water activities are flats sport fishing, deep sea sport fishing and sailing. Tourism-related shopping losses would total $22m, where a big portion of them will come from the mentioned boating visitors. Transportation related to tourism will suffer losses estimated to near $20m. Other losses are calculated to be around $5m."