WASHINGTON, Aug 31 (Reuters / EP) –
Dozens of tourists have decided to leave the Bahamas on Friday after Hurricane Dorian arrived in the northwestern islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco and before the international airport closes at 10 p.m. (local time).
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center has reported in an official statement that Dorian had become an “extremely dangerous” category 4 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph or 215 kilometers per hour.
Grand Bahama and Abaco are two of the nuclei of the thriving tourism industry in the Bahamas. The archipelago nation owes almost 30 percent of its direct gross domestic product and half of its jobs to this industry, according to Joy Jibrilu, general director of the Ministry of Tourism. “Anything that can make this industry fail is really very worrying,” he said.
The country is “still recovering” from Hurricane Matthew, which hit the Bahamas in 2016, according to Joy Jibrilu, who has lamented that some hotels took years to repair the damage from this disaster.
During a press conference, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Hubert Minnis, explained that Dorian was moving slowly. For his part, Captain Stephen Russell, director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), believes that this hurricane “will cause catastrophic results”, so he has urged residents of Abaco and Grand Bahama to accelerate preparations for Storm.
Pauline Powell, from Dublin, had planned to stay on vacation in Grand Bahama until Sunday, however, he has gone to London early. Powell, 26, has explained that the staff at his hotel, Island Seas Resort, had already boarded the windows of the first and second floors when he headed to the airport on Friday morning.
“Almost everyone has left or leaves today by ferry or plane,” Powell added. “We've been through this before, so we know how to prepare,” said Amanda Ormerod, owner of a chocolate shop in Grand Bahama.
In 2017, the Bahamas tourism industry weakened due to the passage of hurricanes Irma and María. The World Travel and Tourism Council reported that the two storms caused an estimated fall of 826,100 visitors throughout the region.
After Dorian, the fourth tropical storm with destructive potential, will arrive Erin, a post-tropical cyclone reported by the National Hurricane Center on Thursday and located more than 200 miles east-northeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina , although no more tropical cyclone formation is expected during the next few days.