Downtown retailers looking forward to new port owners

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Port of Nassau is one of the largest cruise ports in the world, however, there is little spent by stop-over visitors.  Downtown retailers, however, are hoping this will be a thing of the past once the government approves a new company to renovate and manage the port.

“I think what’s so great about this cruise port developer is that they are looking to partner with local businesses and try to help to develop that experience for passengers because they see that value-add that Bahamian businesses are offering on Bay Street and are trying to encourage growth for us so that it can become more thriving for us once again,” said Tara Morely, co-president of The Bahamas Confederation of Retailers in a recent interview with Eyewitness News.

Morely believes that once business owners in the area receive the support that they desperately need, and also see the effects of the beautification of the harbour area unfolding, they will adopt a new mindset as well.

“Once you see the entire space being beautified with this commitment that they have made then it does allow for other people to be like, ‘okay, well it looks like things are actually happening now so now is the time for us to make an investment into our downtown investment,’” she opined.

Morely told Eyewitness News Online that she is currently engaged in dialogue with over 100 retailers who are a part of the Bahamas Confederation of Retailers.

Those discussions have revolved around what business owners would like to see happen in the downtown area and how the new port manager, once selected, can help grow business for merchants in the area.

“All of them have been wanting this for years and in fact, many businesses were scared to go on record with respect to their concerns with retaliation from cruise lines with not sending people to their businesses. So now that we have this opportunity to share our concerns, many retailers are doing just that,” she said.

“I think if we can figure out a partnership which actually invest and support in building up our local community and making sure that some of that money stays in Nassau, it would be great.

“If we can even just gain another 20 per cent on the average spend of cruise ship tourist, because we have a more beneficial partner in whoever the new cruise ship port operator is, then we would still be below the average in the Caribbean but it would still be a lot more money coming into the country, a lot of job growth for Bahamians because retailers are some of the largest employers in the country. It just has a whole trickle-down effect.”

Three companies are currently vying to manage the Port of Nassau: Providence Advisors (representing Nassau port partners); Cruise Ports International Ltd, (representing cruise ports international,  Carnival, Disney, Norwegian & Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines); and Global Ports Holding Company.