It’s not officially open yet, but Grand Bahama International Airport – still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Dorian – has just received its first flight since the onset of the storm in early September.
In late November, a chartered Bahamasair B737 flew from Tennessee to GBIA in the city of Freeport, with a group of student basketball players on board. The flight was chartered for the Tabernacle Basketball Tournament, as has been the case annually in the past.
Deplaning, immigration and luggage procedures at GBIA (IATA code: FPO) all apparently went smoothly, with just a few slowdowns as airport facilities are restored in anticipation of FPO reopening for regular commercial flights. The minister of tourism, the GB office of the Prime Minister, the GB Port Authority and GBI Tourism Board were all involved in the effort.
By ship to The Bahamas
Meanwhile, travel by sea between Florida and the Bahamas is an increasingly attractive option, available from Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line. It is a provider of two-night cruises to Grand Bahama Island and Nassau. Two ships – the Grand Celebration and Grand Classica – sail daily from Palm Beach, Forida.
Since Nov. 21, the cruise line has been offering a buy-one, get-one free discount, with prices starting at US$69 per person for inside cabins, on sailings through Feb. 13, 2020. All bookings include the option to buy five free drinks and get five free. Travel advisors get a base commission of 15% with no non-commissionable fees.
The cruise line also offers a Cruise & Stay program, allowing travellers to extend their Bahamas vacation with a resort stay. Bookings are available at beach resort and hotel options on Nassau or Grand Bahama Island.
Those who sailed on the Nov. 29 departure of the Grand Classica were treated to a performance by Grammy award winners The Baha Men. This was part of a new global #LetsGoBahamas campaign, by the cruise line, the Bahamas Tourist Office and SONY Music to spread the message that the Bahamas is ready to welcome tourism.
Bahamas open for business
Dorian swept across the Bahamas in early September, inflicting major damage on a few islands in the nation, but leaving most of the island chain intact. However, the images from the hardest hit northernmost islands – Grand Bahama Island and the Abaco Islands – were devastating and had the effect of characterizing the whole nation as badly damaged.
The vast majority of the Bahamas were not impacted and remained open for tourism business, reports the tourist office. This includes the islands of Nassau and Paradise Island, Eleuthera, Harbour Island, Andros, Bimini, Berry Islands, Exumas, Cat Island, San Salvador, Long Island, Acklins/Crooked Island, Mayaguana and Inagua.
Grand Bahama Island is rebounding, with visitors arriving by cruise ship and ferry, and many of its major hotels and attractions are open, says the tourism office. The Abacos face a longer road to recovery, say tourism officials. “But the country remains resilient and steadfast in its commitment to help the island rebuild.”
Lending a helping hand with those efforts is rock musician Lenny Kravitz, whose guitar-driven hit “Fly Away” was first used in support of Bahamas tourism promotions early in 2019. The song is matched with the tourism slogan “Bahamas – Fly Away,” and is the theme for video promos that feature visuals of Kravitz.
The song and promos have been given new life and exposure in the drive to help regenerate arrivals for the Bahamas. The Bahamian-American Kravitz has a home in the islands, so the song also has a personal relevance in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.