The Bahamas was rocked in early October when Hurricane Matthew, rated as a category 4 hurricane left a trail of devastation that included loss of lives, destruction of property, and resulted in the closure of a number of hotels, cruise lines and gaming facilities. The tourism industry which is critical to the island was greatly impacted as is yet to return to normal as a number of hotels and casinos in the Bahamas are still in recovery mode.
Sunwing Airlines has currently stopped all flights from Canada and the United States to the Bahamas while Carnival Cruise Lines is currently not operating any cruises to Freeport. Sunwing has been operating flights to Freeport since 2003 and is responsible for bringing in thousands of tourists each week from Edmonton, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Halifax and Montreal to Freeport.
Two of the main hotels in Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island have been shut down for repairs and more than 1,000 hotel employees had been left redundant. Some of the key stakeholders in the tourism industry have been holding meetings to see how quickly they can turn things around and have all facilities back up and running for tourists to return. Some of the smaller hotels such as Castaways in Freeport and Pelican Bay Resort in Lucaya have remained open and are currently providing accommodation to those that have come in to assist with the restoration process.
In a statement, Russell Miller, chairman of the Grand Bahama Island Tourism Board said “We had some meetings and I believe it is a great opportunity for us to rebuild, improve and enhance the product. We are in discussion with the Ministry of Tourism to have a relaunch of Grand Bahama early next year when all the products are back in place, and up and running so we can get the message out that Grand Bahama is open for business and we welcome visitors to come back to our shores”.
The Grand Lucayan Resort features Breaker’s Cay and Lighthouse Pointe and is scheduled to reopen on November 7. When fully open, the property offers 740 rooms. Lighthouse Pointe, the property’s all-inclusive section, includes 198 rooms. Breakers Cay and the Lanai Suites offer an additional 542. The property hosts Treasure Bay Casino. The 496 room Memories Resort which employs 500 staff is expected to open on December 10. The Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach Resort is scheduled to reopen on November 14 and Sunwing Airlines plans to resume normal service to the Grand Bahamas from December 17.
A number of popular tourist attractions on the island such as the Garden of the Groves, Taino Beach’s Pirate Cove water theme park and the Port Lucaya Marketplace have all closed as they suffered damage during the hurricane. The operators are currently restoring these facilities and are expected to reopen them once all of the major hotels on the island reopen.
This article has been updated to reflect an accurate room count for Grand Lucayan Resort when fully open.