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Port bidder exec: GPH wants to help generate life along the waterfront

Global Ports Holding’s (GPH) Head of Business Development for the Americas Colin Murphy yesterday insisted that “We’re not going to build a port with a great big wall around it,” and that “There’s no sort of giving anything away national assets.”

GPH is one of three entities that submitted bids to the government to redevelop and revitalize the Nassau cruise port.

GPH is the world’s largest cruise port operator, with 15 cruise ports and two cargo ports in nine countries. Its portfolio includes some of the best ports in the world.

“So, we’re not going to build a port with a great big wall around it and keep everybody out. We want it to help generate life along the waterfront,” Murphy said of the company’s proposed $250 million project.

Murphy said GPH recognizes that the Nassau cruise port is a hugely important asset of the people of The Bahamas, and if it is the winning bidder its relationship with the port would mirror that of the other counties in which it manages ports.

“Most of our relationships at our ports are some type of a public-private partnership and it would essentially be the same thing here if we are successful, we would be partners with the government and with the people of The Bahamas,” he said.

“We are just a tenant essentially and at the end of the term of the concession we give the keys back to the government and then everything that we’ve done, everything that we’ve invested stays with the government. Hopefully they would like for us to continue to manage that, but if they don’t they don’t.

“But there’s no sort of giving anything national assets away, we’re really managing it on behalf of the people of The Bahamas.”

As for the plans for the port, Murphy said part of GPH’s proposal involves adding two addition ship berths, so that the port can accommodate two more big ships, a landmark building, and an auditorium that would accommodate up to 10,000 people.

“One of the elements that we’re including on the project itself is an auditorium where we can have concerts with up to ten thousand people, and we have a relationship with people at Roc Nation and we are committed to bringing an international star to open the thing,” he said.

“The thing that I really like is the idea of having movies under the stars, so once a week we can have movies there and people can come down and have a picnic, it’s just a nice community thing.”

Murphy said despite it being one of the biggest cruise ports in the world in terms of passenger throughput, the Port of Nassau has not been managed as effectively as it could have been, and the guest experience has not been optimal. He said GPH is proposing important elements that he believes would be the catalyst for the regeneration of downtown Nassau.

“Traditionally a port consists of a place to park the ships, some shops and a place to park buses. We want to do more than that, we want to open up the port to the people of Nassau and to the hotel guests and really create an attraction that will draw people into downtown. We’re not designing this just for the cruise guests, we want people to leave Baha Mar or Atlantis and to come downtown by creating some really cool things. The first thing we felt is that Nassau really needs an iconic building, it needs something that really screams Nassau, that will be on postcards and that people around the world, when they see it, that they will know this is the Port of Nassau,” he said.

“We’ve designed some really cool elements which we will be sharing as we go through the process, that we really think will put Nassau on the map. And we’ll be fixing some of those logistical things about moving people around inside the port, it’s a very long walk, it’s very uncomfortable, all those logistic things are very easy for us to do. We’ll also be adding some food and beverage outlets that will again be awesome. I think that will give people a reason to come downtown as opposed to staying in the hotel.”

Murphy added that GPH has committed to not adding big international retailers at its port, so as to not “step on anyone’s toes outside of the port”.

“So that’s a commitment that we’ve made, the difference is we’ll be giving them proper facilities to operate in. A part of our proposal is that we’re also going to bring in, for the handicraft people, trainers to help them understand the retail business better, to learn how to merchandise, to learn a little about product selection and product placement, so a training program to help them elevate the service they present to the cruise line guests,” he said.

“We’re also looking at supporting them in other ways, at the moment the cruise lines have selected vendors as a part of their business model that they choose to work with, but there are an awful lot of people that don’t get included in that program, so we’re looking at ways to support them.”

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