Davis: Govt. exercising “wishful thinking” with Grand Lucayan

Govt. hopes to sell resort in the first quarter of 2019

 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis said the government’s pronouncement that it could operate the Grand Lucayan Resort at a profit before its resale is not grounded in evidence and appears to be more “wishing thinking” on the part of the Minnis administration.

Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said this month that before its projected resale, the Grand Lucayan resort in Freeport, Grand Bahama, could stop operating at a loss and turn a profit under government ownership if some “exiting business opportunities” pan out.

Davis, who has said he would not have let the government purchase the resort if he was prime minister, suggested the government was attempting to speak profitability into existence.

“It’s wishful thinking on their part,” he told Eyewitness News Online.“I mean, what is the plan for the hotel?

“How do they expect to have a profit when there has been no initiative to bring persons to the island. In fact, airlift is pulling out, not coming in.

“Have you heard about any new airlift coming in?

“I have not heard of any. I have heard more talk, but nothing concrete to date.

“…The first order of business is to fix the plan; there was a whole tourism plan in Grand Bahama, starting with the airport and being able to attract new airlift to the island,” Davis said.

The Opposition leader said the government has an obligation to come clean with the Bahamian people. However, he said that may be difficult, contending that the government’s purchase of the resort was a “kneejerk action with the prime minister just putting his foot in his mouth”.

“The public is entitled to a full explanation as to plans and vision the government has for that property.

“I don’t think that property can work without, at the very least as well, articulating a vision and plan for the whole of Grand Bahama because it is not a one-off project or one-off enterprise.

“As if it exists, in and of itself, it requires a network of resources, infrastructural upgrading and more particularly repositioning the tourism plan for Grand Bahama.”

Davis added that he hopes for the government to succeed, but apart from talk that has been nothing empirical to back up what officials have claimed.

“My assessment is objective,” he said.

“It is not subjective where I am hoping for failure.

“I hope for success, but in the context of where we are and what they are doing, in the absence of a meticulous vision, I can see no profits.

In August, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minis revealed that the government made a $10 million down payment for the purchase of the Grand Lucayan Resort.

The announcement came after Canadian real estate developer Paul Wynn, who had signed a letter of intent with Hutchinson Whampoa to buy the resort, pulled out of the sale, citing the purchase price was too high.

He also said it could take between $110 million and $120 million to fully open the resort.

The government purchased the resort for $65 million, with $30 million paid up front.

The $35 million will be a government-guaranteed mortgage paid back over three and a half years.

The government hopes to sell the property before the second quarter of next year.

It plans to invest $3 million to carry out immediate repairs.

According to the government, it would take $39 million to renovate the three hotels: Memories, Breaker’s Cay and Lighthouse Pointe.

Memories and Breaker’s Cay remain closed.

At last report, around two dozen entities have submitted written expressions to purchase the resort.

In a recent interview, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said a preferred bidder could be selected in the first quarter of the new year.