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Kerzner: Atlantis expansion will come’at the right time’

Kerzner International Chairman and CEO Sir Sol Kerzner said yesterday that at the”right time”he will expand the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island.

Kerzner made the statement weeks after he indicated that thousands of jobs may be in jeopardy as a result of the Baha Mar project.

There was speculation that Kerzner would not go forward with an additional phase as a result of what he has called the government’s violation of the most favored nation status clause.

Under this provision contained in Kerzner International’s heads of agreements with the government, no investor should receive more favorable terms with the government than Kerzner.

Despite the public criticisms of the Baha Mar deal by Kerzner, the House of Assembly unanimously approved the Baha Mar resolution last month. The resolution was for the approval to grant 8,150 work permits for non-Bahamian construction workers.

While not specifically responding to the Baha Mar project, Kerzner said he intends to expand the Atlantis Resort.

“I don’t need much incentive to do more,”Kerzner told reporters yesterday shortly after he received a Queen’s Birthday honor at Government House.

“I think at the right time… We’ve always looked at Atlantis as something that will continue to grow and evolve and be great for us and put us in the forefront of resort development. I think that’s where we are.”

He was among 24 people to be honored, but the only person to receive a knighthood.

While Kerzner was in the news yesterday as a result of his honor from the queen, he made headlines last month for a very different reason: His statements relative to the Baha Mar project.

Speaking of the Baha Mar deal last month, Kerzner said,”It’s a deal that makes no sense. It’s a deal that could be harmful to the people of The Bahamas and certainly to future investors and indeed ourselves.”

However, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham assured previously that the issue with Kerzner will come to a satisfactory conclusion.

In another matter, Ingraham revealed yesterday during the award ceremony that Kerzner will donate$1 million toward the revitalization of downtown Nassau.

When asked to comment on that Kerzner said he was happy to give back to a country that has done so much for him.

“As I say we like to participate in all aspects of the community and as I said The Bahamas has been great to us and we want to give back to the country and support the community and community projects,”he said.

Responding to his award, Kerzner, who has permanent residency in The Bahamas, said he is honored.

Yesterday, Ingraham recognized Kerzner’s contribution to the revitalization of the tourism industry in the 90s.

The prime minister pointed out that Kerzner International is the largest private employer in The Bahamas.

The company employs approximately five percent of the labor force. The prime minister added that Kerzner has also generously contributed to community development, environmental causes and recreational facilities, among others things.

“He is especially deserving of recognition and honor,”said Ingraham, adding that Kerzner International’s increased sourcing of Bahamian grown, made and produced goods and services has considerably deepened the local value added to the tourism sector.

“In sum, Solomon Kerzner has been good for and to The Bahamas,”Ingraham said.

Kerzner thanked Ingraham and the government for the honor.

“I’m delighted and I love the fact that it’s here in The Bahamas that I’m receiving this honor, ” he said.

Kerzner said his experiences in The Bahamas have been positive.

“The community has been great to us,”he said.

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