PM says investment will create 3,000 direct and indirect jobs
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said Grand Bahama is “at the beginning of a new day” as he signed a Heads of Agreement (HOA) for the sale of the Grand Lucayan Resort and Casino.
The $250 million investment by Royal Caribbean and ITM theGroup will go “a long way” to revitalizing the hurricane-ravaged island’s economy.
Minnis said 3,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created through the investment.
“The Grand Lucayan properties have played a vital role in the economic life of Grand Bahama for many years,” he continued.
“Because of this vital role, my Government took the tough, and in some quarters, unpopular decision to temporarily purchase the property. We did so in order to save jobs. We did so to ensure the survival of a number of businesses dependent on tourism in general and the Grand Lucayan in particular.
“Given the economic situation in Grand Bahama, we could not in good conscience allow the full closure of the property. As we stated at the time, it was our intention to privatize the property as quickly as possible.
“We wanted to ensure that we found the right buyer who shared our vision for the renewal of Grand Bahama. Our vision was the renewal and rebirth of Grand Bahama’s tourism sector and product as an essential element in the restoration of this island’s potential,” he added.
Minnis noted that Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and the ITM Group, trading as Bahamas Ports International, share the government’s vision and decided to invest in the long- term future and sustainability of Grand Bahama.
“The developer shared their vision of reinventing the tourism product for land- based guests arriving by air and those arriving by cruise and ferry ships with a distinctive Bahamian flavour and characteristics,” he said.
“This $250 million dollar investment will go a long way in revitalizing Grand Bahama, with myriad economic and employment opportunities for more Grand Bahamians.
“After many false dawns, there is an exciting new horizon for our second most populated island and economic center. Both the Government and the developer are investing in the future and possibilities of Grand Bahama.”
Minnis added, “Grand Bahamas is at the beginning of a new day. This is even more critical in light of a series of hurricanes over the years, especially the recent destruction and in some areas devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian.
According to Minnis, the benefits to Grand Bahama include: capital investment, employment opportunities for Bahamian workers in the tourism and construction industries, increased commerce for local businesses in the Port Lucaya Market Place; taxi drivers and tour operations; and increased revenue to enable the Government to support infrastructural programs.
There will also be training programs for Bahamians through the RCCL Training Academy, he said.
“There are many opportunities for small businesses and Bahamian entrepreneurs, including the producers of a wide variety of Bahamian products,” Minnis said.
“With Grand Bahama’s proximity to the large Florida market in particular, this investment will promote sustainable economic growth and development on Grand Bahama. This investment will also expand the experience for cruise passengers to The Bahamas.
“As you are aware, a high number of cruise experiences are Bahamas only cruises, a strategic advantage for The Bahamas and good economics for cruise lines.”
Dr Minnis underscored the need to revitalize public infrastructure and provide economic opportunities and incentives for the private sector to invest in the revitalization of properties and businesses.
He said the government was in discussion over development of the Grand Bahama International Airport.
The Government of The Bahamas purchased the property as an investment from former owners Hutchison Whampoa in September 2018 at an overall cost totaling $65 million.
A Letter of Intent (LOI) was signed last March between Lucayan Renewal Holdings, the Government of The Bahamas, Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Limited (RCCL) for the intended purchase of the mega resort and the redevelopment of the Freeport Harbour along with RCI’s partners, the ITM Group.