NASSAU, The Bahamas, Thursday March 5, 2020 – The redevelopment of the troubled Grand Lucayan properties and cruise port in Grand Bahama is expected to create 3,000 direct and indirect jobs and additional employment opportunities for Bahamians.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis spoke about the jobs to come earlier this week at the Heads of Agreement signing ceremony for the project, which represents an investment of US$300 million by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) and ITM (Bahamas Port Investments Ltd.). The two are partnering in the project after purchasing the Grand Lucayan from the Government.
In 2016, Hurricane Matthew caused parts of the Grand Lucayan to be shut down and the property to be subsequently taken over by the government. In September 2018, the Minnis administration made a controversial move and bought the resort to save the jobs of Grand Bahamians and businesses.
Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar explained that the investors have now purchased it for US$50 million, but in addition to the insurance payout for damages incurred when Hurricane Dorian devastated Grand Bahama and Abaco last September, “it will balance out at $65 million” – the same price for which government purchased it.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Prime Minister Minnis said that “after many false dawns, there is an exciting new horizon for our second most populous island and economic centre”.
“Both the Government and the developer are investing in the future and possibilities 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 added that the investment “will go a long way in revitalizing Grand Bahama, with myriad economic and employment opportunities for more Grand Bahamians”.
Benefits from the project will also 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 and beyond; taxi drivers and tour operations; and increased revenue to enable the Government to support infrastructural programmes, said the Prime Minister.
Training programs for Bahamians will be available through the RCCL Training Academy, and many opportunities for small businesses and Bahamian entrepreneurs, including the producers of a wide variety of products.
“With Grand Bahama’s proximity to the large Florida market, in particular, this investment will promote sustainable economic growth and development on Grand Bahama,” said Prime Minister Minnis. “This investment will also expand the experience for cruise passengers to The Bahamas.”
Elements of the project include Harbour Village, which is the enhancement and expansion of the cruise port area, featuring three additional berths, retail space, a beach and wellness area as well as shore excursions.
The Lucaya Property will include a 526-room hotel, retail space, 40,000 square-foot convention centre, water and adventure park and other amenities.
A multi-modal transportation hub is expected to improve the infrastructure in and to Grand Bahama for water ferries and additional ground transportation, and new shore excursions featuring local businesses are also part of the development.
The construction of the Harbour Village and Lucaya Property is expected to take 24 months.
Prime Minister Minnis took the opportunity at the signing ceremony to again defend his government’s decision to buy the Grand Lucayan properties back in 2018, saying that they played a vital role in the economic life of Grand Bahama for many years.
“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,” he explained.
“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.”