Grand Lucayan deal edges step closer

By DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Freeport Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

ACTING Prime Minister Peter Turnquest has indicated the government is nearer to finalising a Heads of Agreement with new partners in the relaunch of the Grand Lucayan hotel property under a new brand that will revive the island’s tourism sector.

While onboard the Grand Classica cruise ship on Saturday during its inaugural voyage to the island, Mr Turnquest said: “We have some exciting proposals before us that are about to go to final stretch with respect to finalising the HOA, but I would not make news today about that.

“I want you to be assured that the government of the Bahamas is working diligently with new partners to bring that facility back to its full operation in the very, very near future.”

The Grand Classica is the second of two cruise ships operated by Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, which also operates the Grand Celebration. The combined arrivals from both ships will result in some 400,000 passengers annually to the island.

Mr Turnquest added that he believes what is being planned concerning the Grand Lucayan “is going to bring new excitement to the destination and our tourism product.”

“It will give us the opportunity to expand off of what it is we have in Grand Bahama and to rebrand ourselves as a truly exciting destination, not just tourism destination but a vibrant destination. I look forward to what is to come in that regard because not only will it bring traffic, excitement and energy and entrepreneurial opportunities to Freeport, but it gives us the opportunity to launch other areas of GB that have been neglected.”

In January, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said the deal for the Grand Lucayan’s sale was “far from completed.” His statement came a month after the government announced a letter of intent had been signed between the owners of the Grand Lucayan hotel strip in Grand Bahama and the Toronto-based Wynn Group.

Commitment

Meanwhile on Saturday, Mr Turnquest, the member of Parliament for East Grand Bahama, commended the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line for its continued commitment to bringing guests to the island.

“This company has been a partner in GB for many years, and they have delivered quality guests and experiences, and entrepreneurial opportunity for many on the island. The fact is getting to this point today has not been easy.

“We continue to face some challenges that we as government, and they as a company need to address and overcome as we try to facilitate the rebound of GB as a tourism destination.”

He also said high airport and seaport fees on Grand Bahama must be addressed.

“We have a lot to offer… however, we continue to be faced with the challenge of access and getting people to this island efficiently and cost-effectively at the airport and harbour,” he said.

“This is something we hope that as we go from here with this launch, we will be able to work together with our partners at the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Hutchison Whampoa, and Harbour Company, and government to come up with a strategy that allows us to overcome these difficulties.

“None of us will be successful if we make the barriers to entry so high that it makes it difficult for us to attract the kind of traffic that we want. Our goal ultimately is to get them here, and once we get them here then we have to work collectively on how we can benefit from their presence.”

Mr Turnquest believes it is critical for the island’s leading stakeholders to work with the government to resolve the ongoing issue of high fees that have resulted in low air and sea arrivals.

“We in government would like for you to be our partners and work with us and the community - we have to build what we have together because anyone of us taking the position that we will collect now upfront without looking at the long term will result in certain failure.

“I put that out there for those to hear. We look forward to continued dialogue in this area in order to bring some resolution to ensure that what we started here today will be successful.”

The East Grand Bahama MP said that Bahamas Paradise Cruise brings a “valuable” cruise and stay component that significantly benefits the island.

The Classica will make daily sea arrivals from the US markets as opposed to the Grand Celebration which sails every other day from the port of Palm Beach.

“That is a very important component of our product offering. We know air arrivals are difficult, it is expensive and inconveniencing, but sea arrival allows many the opportunity for enjoyable travel.

“We look forward to what this ship will bring to GB . . . and I want to congratulate and thank BPC for what they are bringing, and what they continue to bring to the island. Unlike the other cruise ships that come for the day…and spend very little on the island, they bring passengers to overnight… and I think it is a very valuable component of our tourism industry.”

Mr Turnquest said what the government is contributing towards the partnership with BPC is miniscule compared to the benefit and the economic return that Grand Bahama will reap from the operation.

He encouraged BPC to make Grand Bahama its home port.

Oneil Khosa, CEO of BPC, said the new ship has a crew of 600 and offers employment onboard to Bahamians.

“We want to bring in a record number of passengers, and we will get there,” he promised.

He said that it was a tremendous task getting the ship ready and here on time. “She came all the way from the Indian Ocean and was out at sea for 45 days before arriving in Freeport on April 9, and we carried passengers on the April 13,” said Mr Khosa.

Some persons and local stakeholders in the tourism industry were invited for a welcome reception, tour and lunch onboard the ship.

Comments

realitycheck242 says...

At this rate the Grand Lucayan deal will be concluded around the 2022 election date !

Posted 16 April 2018, 3:16 p.m. Suggest removal

Well_mudda_take_sic says...

The Minnis-led FNM government have so far failed to prove they can run anything, so what makes them think they can own and operate a hotel?!

Posted 16 April 2018, 3:57 p.m. Suggest removal

TigerB says...

Maybe we should look at why did it close in the first place and whose administration it closed under and which administration could not get open before this current administration. like Baha Mar, this was closed under the PLP and the casino long before that...they not trying to run anything, they trying to reopen what closed under the former government. Something cannot be sold until there is a buyer to purchase it... All this government bashing on here is not helping anyone as far as I can see. They are the government, like it or not and we stuck with them for four more years, its no guarantee they will change either after those four years, as bad as they seem... wish the best for them,

Posted 16 April 2018, 6:54 p.m. Suggest removal

TalRussell says...

Comrade Grand Bahamalanders, hides ya cans corned beef, KP commin'

Posted 16 April 2018, 9:22 p.m. Suggest removal

TalRussell says...

Posted 16 April 2018, 9:47 p.m. Suggest removal

proudloudandfnm says...

Soon. That's all we ever get. It's gonna happen soon. It has been a year and a half. We passed soon about 14 months ago.

GET THE DAMNED DEAL DONE ALREADY!!!!

Posted 17 April 2018, 10:42 a.m. Suggest removal

proudloudandfnm says...

TigerB it closed because Hitchison abandoned it after an insignificant hurricane that did little damage. It closed down a day before the storm and never re-opened. The casino closed about a month after. And as for a buyer. Wynn has been trying to buy it for damn near two years and the FNM swore they were not the only interested party.

If you're gonna opine please get your facts staright.

Posted 17 April 2018, 12:02 p.m. Suggest removal

TigerB says...

Sir, the fact its there has to be a buyer, bottom line, without one it will not sell. I think you will agree

Posted 17 April 2018, 1:07 p.m. Suggest removal

vlmarshall says...

I don't understand some of the political trolling that goes on. The hotel has been partially closed for some time now. It didn't begin under the current administration. While I cannot recall if it was under the previous FNM government, I can recall that there has been issues regarding its operation under the previous government. Now that the current administration is trying to get the hotel sold there is still outcry. What do we want, is our political trolling more important that the unemployed currently in Grand Bahama? Previously we should all be aware that the former government was paying a portion of the salaries of those employed as a means of keeping the hotel opened but that obviously could have only gone on so long. Getting the hotel sold will be a first step in bringing some life back to GB but along with that has to be a decrease in fees and ports of entry. It is incomprehensible that the cost to travel to the island closest to the USA is the more expensive than the cost to travel to New Providence.

Posted 17 April 2018, 1:15 p.m. Suggest removal

proudloudandfnm says...

Wow. Tigerb do you even live in the Bahamas? Wynn has been trying for damn near two years. They had a deal last year but the FNM killed the deal due to the subsidirs Wynn wanted. Fet the facts bro. They're rasy to find...

Posted 17 April 2018, 1:19 p.m. Suggest removal

Dawes says...

What was the subsidies that Wynn wanted? As it may have been too much for the Government to accept. Or should they accept it no matter what, just to get open?

Posted 17 April 2018, 4:51 p.m. Suggest removal

TigerB says...

I'm very aware of the current situation, they are still working out the details, like you said it was some time ago. We all will know when it settled, then we can say that we have a buyer. I'm not concern about what was said between the gov't and Wynn, only thing matter is the signature, that will put people to work. If they don't have it, they have no deal. So far no announcement that it was sold yet... no dotted line was sign as yet, in essence, no buyer. I live 8 minutes away from Port Lucaya.

Posted 17 April 2018, 1:54 p.m. Suggest removal

birdiestrachan says...

Turnquest and the FNM Government tell so many lies. It is foolish to believe any thing that comes from their mouths.

Posted 17 April 2018, 2:46 p.m. Suggest removal

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