Cruise lines have no issue with govt.’s selection for port

Royal Caribbean CEO excited and prepared to work with new developer

 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Although it missed out on the Nassau’ cruise port project, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) President and CEO Michael Bayley said yesterday that the cruise lines are not bothered, and are instead “exited, and willing” to work with the selected developer, Global Ports Holdings, to create the best experience for its passengers.

Responding to questions from Eyewitness News about the government’s selection of GPH over the cruise lines, Bayley said, “We’re fine with that.

“I think what we’re really anxious to see and we are willing to cooperate is in terms of making sure we can create the right experience for our guests that we bring to Nassau.

“We did form a consortium. We put in a proposal.

“We’re certainly okay with another competitor getting the proposal.

“We think it’s going to be an exciting project and we’re happy to support that project and we’re excited for the project to come to life.”

The government announced GPH as the preferred bidder last month.

Three proposals were submitted to the government, including the cruise line consortium and Providence Advisors.

The ownership structure would see 49 per cent of the port owned by GPH, with another 49 per cent owned by The Bahamas Investment Fund, comprised of Bahamian shareholders.

Another two per cent would be owned and controlled by the ‘Yes Foundation’, which would be used for youth development and sports.

GPH plans to invest $250 million to transform the port.

The government has stressed the future arrangement does not represent a sale of the port.

As part of the $250 million proposal, GPH intends to add two additional ship births, a landmark building, an auditorium for concerts with a capacity of 10,000 people, and an outdoor movie feature.

According to GPH, no large international retailers will be added to the port.

The company has also committed $5 million in microloans to entrepreneurs of small businesses.

Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar has assured that the cruise line will not face excessive port fees or berthing disruptions as a result of GPH’s $250 million project.

According to the minister, concerns over the potential conflict of interest from the cruise line partly owning the Nassau port operator and being its biggest customer was among the reasons the consortium’s proposal was not selected.

Currently, the cruise ships pay $18 per passenger in addition to an estimated $4 per head docking fee.

D’Aguilar said the new charge would not be “materially off that”, while GPH Chairman Mehmet Kutman said the cruise port’s management outsourcing would not result in a chance to the government’s $18 per head tax rate.

While it has yet to be finalized, the government is eyeing a 25-year concession period.

The opposition has called on the government to be transparent and make available all details relating to the selection and the port development.

Centreville MP Reece Chipman has also called on the government to table the value of concessions; along with the corporate governance structure and business model of the Bahamas Investment Fund, stressing that Bahamians must have a seat on the table.