Bahamas 'pressing ahead' post-Dorian

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

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ALMOST three months after the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama were hit by Dorian, the most devastating hurricane in Bahamian history, executive director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency Ronald Jackson says the recovery process is advanced.

“They have made some administrative amendments to the institutional mechanism...they have created a ministry [for] disaster management to not only deal with the recovery process, but to [also] look at future strengthening of the preparedness response and to prioritise disaster management within the Bahamian community. So all indications are that they are going forward,” he told the Jamaica Observer yesterday during a regional tourism crisis communications meeting at Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston.

The two-day meeting, which opened yesterday, is being hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Ministry of Tourism.

The eye of Hurricane Dorian made landfall on Abaco and Grand Bahama on September 1, with maximum sustained winds of 295 kilometres per hour, killing at least 54 in Abaco and 11 in Grand Bahama.

Jackson said the extent of the impact is new in recent memory, but that The Bahamas has had “dress rehearsals” over the last decade, with family islands being impacted at least every two years.

“So they're used to having to recover in these family islands, and I think now the focus around resilience is what they're concentrating on — how they can make some of the critical infrastructure that was impacted more resilient to future impact. I think they're pressing ahead,” he said.

The head of the regional disaster management agency said every disaster is an opportunity to fix weaknesses and become more resilient.

“If you've had weaknesses within your country from the point of view of infrastructure, social protection mechanisms, then the event will expose those weaknesses,” he asserted.

Discussing global trends and new research on crisis readiness, Tiffany Misrahi, vice-president of policy, World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), explained that in the selected travel and tourism-related case studies carried out by the WTTC, natural disaster cases have the widest range of recovery of one month to 93 months.

Meanwhile, terrorism cases have the lowest recovery time, at 11.5 months on average, with the recovery time ranging from as little as two months to a maximum 42 months.

The WTTC says this is due to the wide variation in the severity of natural disaster events.

The council further outlined in its 'Crisis Readiness' study, done in collaboration with Global Rescue, that the estimated loss of 826,100 visitors to the Caribbean as a result of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season means the region also missed out on US$741 million that would have been generated.

The council is the global representative of the travel and tourism private sector.


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