Eco tour operators say they are open for business

BACK IN BUSINESS – Members of the National Eco-Tour Operators Cooperative Ltd. (NETO Co-op) announced that their businesses are open and ready to offer environmental and cultural tours post-Hurricane Dorian. Pictured from left are NETO Co-op Secretary, Keith G. Cooper, Marine Conservationist and Eco-Tour Guide, West End Ecology Tours; NETO Co-op’s Co-Chairman H. Rudy Sawyer, Proprietor of Blue Green Outdoors; Barry Smith, Proprietor of Paradise Cove and Donald Duncombe of Grum Ma’s House. (PHOTO: ABRIA COOPER)

Members of the National Eco-Tour Operators Cooperative Ltd. (NETO Co-op) announced that their businesses are open and ready to offer environmental and cultural tours post-Hurricane Dorian. 

Representatives from member companies – Blue Green Outdoors, West End Ecology Tours, Grum Ma’s House and Paradise Cove which – held a press conference Tuesday (October 22) morning at the Gully Wash Beach Bar and Grill, Smith’s Point, where they shared an update on each entities’ operation. 

NETO Co-op’s Co-Chairman H. Rudy Sawyer, Proprietor of Blue Green Outdoors explained that the organization is a national cooperative, which began in Grand Bahama in 2016 for nature, cultural heritage tour operators to band together to reduce the cost of doing business.  

NETO Co-op reduces the individual cost for public liability insurance, allowing each company to be covered for up to $1,000,000 for joint marketing and training.

Sawyer furthered that a number of their participating companies have a variety of tours, excursions and activities up-and-running post-Dorian. 

“No doubt, the ravage and fury of the monster Category 5 hurricane that raged through Grand Bahama between September 1 and 3, has had a devastating effect on our businesses as it has had on all the other elements of life on the island. The road to recovery is steep, but we have determined that we are taking it,” said Sawyer.

He revealed that his business, which is based in McLean’s Town, was greatly affected as they lost some equipment and their eastern based tours are currently suspended; however, they are still able to offer some experiences to guests. 

“There are electric bicycle tours within Freeport, urban birding in Freeport and surrounding settlements; beach tours; Bahamian cultural heritage tours in South Grand Bahama; Western nature snorkeling tours and water activities at Paradise Cove in Deadman’s Reef, and swimming with the Stingrays and fishing tours in West End,” Sawyer detailed.

He added that t NETO Co-op members also wanted to announce that they are offering visiting guests, hurricane relief workers, volunteers and residents nature and heritage tours that show off the great beauty and wonders on parts of Grand Bahama that had minimal impact from Dorian.  

According to Sawyer, several areas are back to a state of welcome for those who wish to enjoy them.

Sawyer reiterated that the Co-op’s members are offering special rates on these tours until the end of the year, to volunteers and residents, as an incentive to visit the business. He also explained that these specials may help to spur on, a getting back to normal atmosphere as soon as possible after being directly hit by the strongest hurricane to ever strike the country. 

He noted that the setting for the press conference was intentionally chosen to further the message that cultural and nature tour operators are open and ready for business. 

“We want to get the message out that yes there are some strong places for activities that are open on the island,” Sawyer said, adding that his company is offering a 50 percent discount to hurricane relief volunteers and visitors. 

Sawyer also revealed that those who may be interested in experiencing what effects Dorian had on communities, buildings and the environment can participate in Hurricane Dorian Relief tours.

“Hurricane Dorian Relief tours can be arranged to the eastern end of the island, including the opportunity for guests to make donations or contributions to assist in the recovery effort,” he said. 

He informed that the following phone numbers and emails that can be contacted to book tours; 727-6161 and bluegreeoutdoors@yahoo.com and 727-1156 and westendecologytours@gmail.com. 

Sawyer also took the opportunity to extend condolences to those who have lost loved one as a result of Dorian’s impact. 

“To those among us who have lost loved ones, we extend our condolences and prayers and to the rest of us who have lost homes, businesses and other possessions we pray for strength and a speedy recovery. Thanks to all who have continued to contribute to our recovery and rebuilding.  Grand Bahama is strong,” said Sawyer. 

Donald Duncombe of Grum Ma’s House, echoed Sawyer’s sentiments, adding that local environmental and culturally based businesses could capitalize on Dorian’s impact on the island. 

NETO Co-op Secretary, Keith G. Cooper, Marine Conservationist and Eco-Tour Guide, West End Ecology Tours agreed that in spite of Dorian’s wrath, eco and cultural tour businesses are ready to serve, particularly his own. 

“West End is really ready,” said Cooper. 

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