NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Tourism minister Dionisio D’Aguilar on Tuesday responded to comments made by his colleague, Pineridge member of parliament Frederick McAlpine, which suggested that government was dragging its feet in the process of selling the Grand Lucayan Resort.
On Monday, McAlpine blasted the Minnis administration for failing to expeditiously settle the sale of the Grand Lucayan Resort.
He claimed that “sixty organizations had expressed interest in the Grand Lucayan and government has not made a sale on the resort as yet.”
But yesterday, D’Aguilar fired back at McAlpine and explained that the process of narrowing down the list of bidders is a tedious one.
“When people express an interest, there is a process; especially when there are a lot of people expressing an interest. You have to gather and sift through that information to see which ones are serious [and] begin a negotiation process to see on what terms they want to do it. This takes time, this isn’t something where you can just flip and switch and it happens,” D’Aguilar said.
D’Aguilar underscored that the project, which is vitally important for the economy of Grand Bahama, requires careful consideration.
“This is a very important project and it’s important that we pick a credible partner, he said. “To imply that it’s as quick as flipping a switch is not correct. It’s going to take a little time and we all know that it will take time so that we are able to ensure that we responsibly sift through all interests.”
Government purchased the Grand Lucayan Resort in 2018 after the resort owners, Hutchinson Wampoa, pulled out.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis publicly announced that government would purchase and operate the resort until it was able to find a suitable owner to take over.
Government purchased the property for $65 million dollars.
D’Aguilar said while government sifts through its list of bidders, it also remains cognizant that the sale will have to be beneficial for government to ensure that it is able to recoup its investment and make a profit on the sale of the resort.
Still hanging in limbo are voluntary separation packages for a number of managers at the resort.
D’Aguilar confirmed Tuesday that negotiations are ongoing and that all payouts should be completed before the resort is sold and handed over to its new owners.
“We have to get in a room and meet. As with all labour negotiations they work their way up the chain and so now I guess I’m the next one in the chain,” he said.
McAlpine said Grand Bahamians will be impressed with government’s promises about the resort once a sale has been materialized.