I am looking at a map of the Caribbean and marveling at the Bahamas, the country hardest hit by Hurricane Dorian. In Lonely Planet's "The Travel Atlas," the islands appear as wisps of green in an ocean of blue, all a fraction of the size of nearby Jamaica and Cuba. But while the country lacks heft, it certainly has breadth. Its more than 700 islands run from east of Palm Beach, Fla., to the eastern tip of Cuba.
This geographic reach is a blessing for the wounded country — and an opportunity for tourists. As Dorian parked over parts of the Bahamas, bringing drenching rains and lashing winds, it spared other parts. Many of the country's most popular resorts remain open, including Atlantis.
How can I talk about tourism at a time like this — when the death toll is rising, countless people have lost their homes and evacuees are seeking refuge? Because tourists are essential to the recovery.
According to the Government of the Bahamas, tourism accounts for 50% of the $5.7 billion gross domestic product. A visitor stays at a hotel, dines on a shrimp dinner, buys a souvenir and pays some taxes along the way. To them, it's a vacation; to Bahamians, it's help on the road to recovery.
The northern islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco were devastated and remain closed to tourists. But Paradise and New Providence islands, connected by a bridge and served by the Nassau airport, were just far enough south to escape the storm. Other southern destinations include the Exumas, Andros and Eleuthera islands.
Sun Country Airlines has no plan to alter its recently announced flights to Nassau this winter, according to spokesperson Kirsten Wenker. In fact, the destination is part of its early booking sale, and through Sept. 23, one-way tickets from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Nassau can be had for $189, according to my online search on Wednesday. The weekly Saturday flights begin Dec. 21.
Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.