Wed | Sep 18, 2019

Hurricane Dorian | Bartlett to drum up support for Bahamas at UNWTO - Sandals resorts unaffected; hotel chain looks to help with recovery efforts

Published:Wednesday | September 4, 2019 | 12:12 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Edmund Bartlett

WESTERN BUREAU:

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett will be pushing to mobilise global support for hurricane-recovery efforts for The Bahamas when he attends the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly in St Petersburg, Russia, on Thursday.

Under the umbrella of the Global Resilience and Crisis Management Centre, based at The University of the West Indies, and in collaboration with the Sandals Foundation, Bartlett will lead the initiative in his position as chair of the Commission of the Americas.

The Bahamas are immediate past chair of the commission.

“I feel this is my responsibility to bring to the attention of the General Assembly the difficulties that our member country is now facing as a result of the hurricane and to coordinate the response initiative which the UNWTO and its affiliates may offer,” Bartlett told The Gleaner yesterday.

The Abacos and Grand Bahama have been devastated by Hurricane Dorian, which made landfall on Sunday as a Category Five storm.

Bartlett said he will reach out to Global Resilience and Crisis Centre board of directors, who are located across the world, as well as its honorary co-chairs in Africa (Kenya), Malta, and here at home, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Bartlett said that with The Bahamas being one of the most tourism-dependent economies in the world, its susceptibility to global disruption such as climatic events as it has now experienced puts it in a position for immediate response.

The good news, he noted, was that tourism was the most resilient of most industries and the perfect medium for fast recovery because of its immediate convertibility.

Every effort must be made to bring back the infrastructure as quickly as possible to resume economic activities, he argued.

The centre, he said, was also reaching out to an entity in Denmark that has developed an efficient and fast construction recovery solution, which could be valuable in rebuilding tourism accommodations in the fastest possible time and the most affordable way.

In the meantime, Sandals Resorts International’s (SRI) Deputy Chairman Adam Stewart shared that, “All three of the Sandals properties in the Bahamas have been unaffected, which gives us [SRI] the opportunity to focus on recovery and assisting however we can. We are proud to be working with the Government of Jamaica and the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre to help our neighbouring islands of The Bahamas ... .”

He added: “This morning, the foundation, through the efforts of those who have supported us thus far, donated US$10,000 worth of water as a first gesture to those in Abaco, through our partner, the Bahamian non-profit group HeadKnowles … . A partner of Sandals has also donated US$100,000 worth of cleaning material, which we will also be collecting in the next 48 hours.”

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com