Hurricane Irene Prompts Department of State to Issue Travel Warnings to Bahamas, Turks and Caicos

Due to the “potential risk of travel” posed by Hurricane Irene, the U.S. Department of State on Tuesday issued travel warnings to both The Bahamas and Turks & Caicos.

According to the warning, U.S. citizens in areas likely to be impacted by Hurricane Irene who do not have access to adequate and safe shelter should consider departing until the storm has passed while commercial transportation is available and ports are open.

U.S. citizens staying in The Bahamas or the Turks & Caicos despite this warning should locate shelter, monitor media reports and follow all official instructions, according to the warning. Although a hurricane warning to Turks and Caicos was downgraded to a tropical storm warning, there is still a hurricane warning in effect for The Bahamas, according to the latest public advisory by the National Hurricane Center.

The core of Irene will move across the Southeastern and Central Bahamas through tonight and over the Northwestern Bahamas on Thursday.

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation is closely monitoring the progress of Hurricane Irene and liaising with NEMA, Bahamas Hotel Association, Nassau Airport Development Company and other authorities. Even though the hotels in The Bahamas are fully prepared to accommodate guests under these circumstances, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation is strongly recommending that all visitors voluntarily evacuate the destination.  

Visitors are encouraged to contact their airlines directly to make arrangements for early departure or contact their hotel’s front desk or concierge for assistance and information. The Ministry is working with industry partners to request that change fees are waived and liaising with hotels and industry partners to extend all possible courtesies to those affected in accordance with the industry’s recommended hurricane cancellation policy. Additionally, the Ministry is also recommending that visitors with plans to travel into the destination in the next five days postpone their travel until a later date. The Bahamas Hotel Association hurricane cancellation policy is now in effect.

As the storm moves through the country, airports will be closed. Some in the southeastern Bahamas have already closed. The Nassau Airport Development Company indicates that the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) is continuing to operate with regular service and is working with airlines to accommodate extra flights at this time.  

The airport on Grand Bahama Island remains open at this time but is also expected to close as the storm progresses. Airfields will cease operation once sustained winds of 40 mph have been reached.  

Major cruise ports in Nassau and Grand Bahama Island were expected to close Tuesday night. Calls are not expected to resume until Saturday, August 29. Passengers with reservations should contact cruise lines directly with questions. 

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