Bahamas Ministry Of Tourism Fully Activates For Hurricane Joaquin

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (BMOT) has fully activated its Emergency Coordinating Committee at the British Colonial Hilton in preparation for Hurricane Joaquin.

The committee represents a cross-section of the Ministry of Tourism that includes senior management and other officers who will monitor the storm’s movements.

BMOT’s crisis management team is liaising with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), Nassau Airport Development Company, the Port Authority and other relevant authorities.

“We are monitoring and disseminating information as soon as we get it and we are making sure that our islands in the south have pertinent information and similarly that they are passing the information to us so we can ensure that at all times contact and communication is taking place,” Director General in the Ministry of Tourism Joy Jibrilu said.

“What we have ascertained just how many visitors we have in The Bahamas. Nassauvians are sometimes Nassau-centric. We have to go from down south all the way up the chain like Ragged Island, Crooked Island all the way up to Grand Bahama and so we have a head count of all the visitors in The Bahamas.”

The director general said that there are approximately 5,500 currently in hotels in Nassau and Paradise Island.

In Grand Bahama, there are about 1,500.

“We have a sprinkling of visitors throughout the chain of islands. Fortunately, this is a low season particularly for our Family Islands. A lot of the hotels are closed for this period to do the renovations and the upkeep that they need to do in preparation for the major opening for the winter season and it is a blessing in disguise this time,” Ms. Jibrilu said.

The director general said hotels in Exuma, Long Island and San Salvador have guests but they are secured.

She added that marinas have also been taken under consideration.

“I’m happy to say that through the Marinas Association of The Bahamas we have been able to get the word out throughout The Bahamas. We’ve heard from most of the Family Islands where there were concerns and they have all assured us that all of the boaters are insured, the boats are protected and that they are all safe,” Ms. Jibrilu said.   

The overall objectives of the Ministry’s hurricane preparedness plan are to ensure the safety and security of visitors to The Bahamas, the protection of the country’s reputation and the securing of the Ministry’s physical assets.

During the storm, team members will conduct task force conference calls to keep key agencies apprised of preparations and developments.

Each Bahamas Tourist Office (BTO) throughout the islands is equipped with a satellite phone to keep in touch with the command center in New Providence.

BMOT will also monitor social media and news sites to ensure that accurate information is given about The Bahamas during the time of the storm.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the Northwest Bahamas, which includes the Abacos, the Berry Islands, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama and New Providence.

A Hurricane Warning is also in effect for parts of the Southeast Bahamas, which includes Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay and Mayaguana.

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.

Meanwhile, a Tropical Storm warning is now in effect for the remainder of the Southeast Bahamas, which includes Ragged Island, Inagua and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.

As a result of the Hurricane Warning, at least three cruise lines have rerouted their ships to avoid Hurricane Joaquin. Carnival has altered its Eastern Caribbean itineraries for Pride and Valor, Princess replaced Royal Princess’ call at the line’s private island, and Norwegian has canceled Getaway’s Nassau call scheduled for later this week.

At 11:00 a.m. EDT the center of Hurricane Joaquin was located near latitude 23.0 degrees north and longitude 73.9 degrees west.  This position puts the eye over Samana Cay and 15 miles north of Acklins or about 53 miles east of long island or about 115 miles NW of the Turks and Caicos Islands and about 230 miles ESE New Providence.

Hurricane Joaquin is moving toward the southwest near six miles per hour. 

A turn toward the northwest and north is expected on Friday and a faster motion toward the north is expected through Saturday.  On the forecast track, the center of Joaquin is expected to move near or over portions of the central and Southeast Bahamas today and tonight and pass near or over portions of the Northwest Bahamas on Friday.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 125 miles per hour with higher gusts.  Joaquin is now a Category 3 hurricane and some additional strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours with some fluctuations in intensity possible through Saturday.

Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 140 miles from the center.

Residents in the warning areas should ensure that all preparation have been completed and remain indoor once conditions deteriorates.

Heavy rains will continue to cause severe flooding in the Central and South Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands today and tonight.

Small craft operators throughout The Bahamas should remain in port as large swells and battering waves will affect The Bahamas during the next few days.

The Islands Of The Bahamas will be releasing updates on tracking of Hurricane Joaquin, but we encourage everyone to access the National Hurricane Center and The Weather Channel for latest updates.  For more information on Hurricane Joaquin and The Islands Of The Bahamas, travel professionals and consumers are advised to access the following:

The National Hurricane Center at nhc.ncoaa.gov

            The Weather Channel at www.weather.com

Media Contact: Kendea Smith | ksmith@bahamas.com | 242-397-2786