The destruction brought on by Hurricane Irene could result in increased investment by hoteliers in the maintenance and upgrading of their hotel properties in some of the Family Islands that were hardest hit by the storm, according to executive vice president of the Bahamas Hotel Association Frank Comito.
His statement came shortly after Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham signed an exigency order (49KB PDF) which allows hotel owners to bring certain goods duty free that would help with their rebuilding efforts.
“With the recession over the last couple of years its been difficult to put a lot of money into that. But the hurricane may prompt some additional investments in those areas. So we’re hopeful.”
Hotel owners whose properties were pounded during the passage of Hurricane Irene are being encouraged to take advantage of the exigency order.
Minister of Tourism and Aviation Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace and Comito said the tax break will no doubt assist the hotel operators, who in some cases were already struggling to effect upgrades and repairs to their properties.
“I believe there are a number of properties that will take advantage of that when they would not have done so before,” Vanderpool-Wallace said.
Tourism officials toured hotel properties on Eleuthera, Abaco and Cat Island earlier this week.
Vanderpool-Wallace said reports about the damage to most of the properties have been exaggerated.
“We understand there’s a great deal of hysterics when you get in the middle of a hurricane. Some of the things said were incorrect,” he said, adding that the properties are in much better shape than were thought.
However, he added that as a result of the storm some properties will be forced to closed their doors for repairs.
“In the Family Islands, the good news is some of the properties would have been closed anyway for renovation. And as I said earlier some of them saw what happened as an acceleration of their plans. Some of them were thinking that they weren’t going to do anything until next year and now they are going to do it now. So we think some of the properties are going to come out much fresher than they ever have been as a result of what happened.”
Among the hotel properties that will close is the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort on New Providence. The property will be shut down for four weeks to address structural and other damage sustained from Hurricane Irene. While New Providence is not one of the islands that is listed on the exigency order, the property owner can still apply for duty exemption.
Long Cay, Mayaguana, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Inagua, Ragged Island, Cat Island and Acklins are the islands listed to benefit from the order.
Duty free goods include building materials, electrical fixtures and materials, plumbing fixtures and materials, household furniture and furnishing and appliances, among other things.
The Nassau Guardian