Hotelier: GB leisure tourism virtually ‘non-existent’ since Hurricane Matthew in 2016

Hotelier: GB leisure tourism virtually ‘non-existent’ since Hurricane Matthew in 2016
Pelican Bay Resort

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A functioning airport and the reopening of the Grand Lucayan is “absolutely critical” for any “rebirth” of tourism on Grand Bahama, according to a prominent hotelier.

Magnus Alnebeck, the Pelican Bay Resort’s general manager, said his property has not made a profit for more than 10 years and would likely see a $1 million loss this year.

“A functioning airport, and that Grand Lucayan reopens in some sort of fashion is absolutely critical for any “re-birth” of tourism in Grand Bahama,” he said.

“Since Hurricane Matthew, when Hutchison chose to terminate the lease that Sunwing had in operating Memories as a good all-inclusive product, the GBI overnight leisure tourism has been virtually non-existent.

“The exception has been Viva Fortuna, which has been able to stay open, due to some very targeted and costly charter airlift,  subsidized by government. They were obviously forced to close down due to COVID-19, and their reopening, whenever possible, is absolutely critical.”

Alnebeck said: “Pelican Bay remains reopen, and we feel that we have an obligation to the community and the destination to do so. It is not a case of reducing your profit, a phrase often used.  We have not made a profit for more than 10 years, and 2020 is likely to mean a $ 1 million loss, for a 184 room hotel.  The tourism business situation in Grand Bahama is often misunderstood, underestimated, and gets none of the attention it needs.”

Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson in a recent interview with Eyewitness News noted that government is continuing to work with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Mexico’s ITM Group to complete the sale of the Grand Lucayan.

“We are continuing to work with the Royal Caribbean and the ITM team to complete the sale and to do a full turnover to them,” said Thompson.

“They have indicated their full commitment to move ahead with the project. They have been in constant communication with our offices as well as the Ministry of Tourism and the entire government team. We are confident that very shortly we should bring a completion to this matter. They did indicate to us that as a result of COVID-19 the project would be delayed however they have indicated they are moving ahead.”

Thompson described the Royal Caribbean/ITM project and Carnival Cruise Line’s cruise port project as ‘very important’ developments that could ‘change the landscape of Grand Bahama’.

Several months ago the government indicated intentions to acquire Grand Bahama International Airport from Hutchison Port Holdings, though a deal is yet to be solidified.

The airport sustained significant damage during Category 5 Hurricane Dorian nearly a year ago.