GPH prepared to invest an estimated $250 million to transform port

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Global Ports Holding (GPH), one of three companies in the running to redevelop and manage the Port of Nassau, revealed Wednesday that it is prepared to invest an estimated $250 million into transforming the country’s main gateway.

Colin Murphy, Head of Business Development for GPH Americas revealed a number of GPH’s proposed plans for the port redevelopment to members of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) and The Bahamas Confederation of Retailers.

GPH, which is headquartered in London, is the world’s largest independent cruise port operator.

The company currently operates 17 cruise ports in nine countries.

With an established presence in the Atlantic, Asia Pacific, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, Murphy said GPH is confident that it has what it takes to usher the Port of Nassau into a new era.

“This [Port of Nassau] is a super important asset for The Bahamas, and if you’re going to have somebody manage that asset for you, you’re going to want the best person with the most experience to run that. Someone who can bring an international perspective who know what works well in ports around the world and truly make Nassau great,” he said.

Murphy said GPH will not only focus on improving stopover spend from cruise passengers but will also pull resort guests to the city centre as well.

“We wanted to open up the port to the people of Nassau and to the hotel guest and everyone else. To create an attraction that would draw people into Downtown,” he asserted.

“We’re not designing this just for cruise guests. We want to give people a reason to leave Baha Mar or leave Atlantis and come Downtown, by creating some really cool things.”

Those “cool things,” include the introduction of two new berths to accommodate more cruise liners, paving the entire harbour for ease of mobility for foot traffic, the introduction of additional food and beverage outlets, a car park and a 10 thousand seat auditorium.

Murphy confirmed that GPH will also invest in small business owners at the port.

“A part of our proposal is to bring in, for the small guys, trainers to help them understand the retail business better. To learn how to merchandise, learn the importance of product placement and selection; so, the program will help to elevate the service they offer to guests,” Murphy said.

A promise which Tara Morely, Co-President, Bahamas Confederation of Retailers said seems quite promising.

“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 trying to encourage growth for us there so that it can become more thriving for us once again,” she said.

Of the proposed $250 million-dollar investment, Murphy said $28 million dollars will be invested in local stakeholders.

Five million dollars will be invested in interest-free microloans to small entrepreneurs he said.

Ten million dollars in interest-free loans for Bahamian people to have access to funds to invest in shares for the port.

Three million dollars for a youth, education and sports foundation, Murphy confirmed.

Two million dollars to support local artisans and farmers; and the remaining funds to be used to assist the Downtown Nassau Partnership and skills development.

The company’s ownership structure will be split into three parts, according to Murphy.

Forty-nine per cent would be owned by GPH.

The other 49 per cent will be owned by a company called The Bahamas Investment Fund.

The investment fund is designed to give Bahamians a stake in the entire project, according to Murphy.

“We are super keen that local people are able to buy into this fund,” he said.

“So, minimum subscription is $1,000. We know that it might still be high for some people so we are going to provide interest-free loans of up to $10 million dollars for local people to have a stake in the port,” Murphy explained.

GPH is aiming to attract 20,000 Bahamians to become shareholders in the project.

Murphy confirmed that if GPH proves successful in its bid to redevelop the Port of Nassau, the transformation will take two and a half years to complete.