Thompson: Lucayan deal will include airlift and marketing components
Minister of State for Grand Bahama Senator Kwasi Thompson said in a statement late Sunday that the final joint venture agreement between ITM Group and Royal Caribbean International (RCI) will include airlift and marketing components that will impact the entire island of Grand Bahama.
Thompson released the statement after criticism from the opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) following the announcement of the signing of a letter of intent (LOI) between Lucayan Renewal Holdings – the special purpose vehicle created by the government to acquire and sell the Grand Lucayan – and RCI/ITM.
Thompson said the deal is a good one for Grand Bahama, noting that despite the criticism, the government intends to immediately begin exclusive negotiations with the joint venture group with the intention of signing an agreement for sale and heads of agreement.
“Why would the PLP criticize a project that could bring the much-needed relief to Grand Bahamians? Does the PLP really want Grand Bahama to succeed? Would those who criticize prefer Grand Bahama to remain in the state it is in and the government not to try to make it better? The PLP questions the estimated 2,000 jobs this project could create,” said Thompson.
“The RCI/ITM joint venture includes the hotel development and a water park and cruise port development at the Freeport Harbour. It also includes transportation between both locations. While this number is only an estimate, the PLP had no difficulty accepting Paul Wynn’s first proposal which they touted just before the general election. That proposed development had an estimated 1500 jobs and did not include a water park or cruise port development.”
Thompson said Grand Bahama welcomed 775,000 cruise passengers last year, a number that could spike to two million, according to RCI/ITM.
“This is huge for taxi drivers, straw vendors, tour operators, restaurants and shops,” he said.
“The development also improves our overall destination. Most cruise lines did not regularly call on Grand Bahama, but this could all change with the proposed development.”
The airlift component of the deal is important, given that Grand Bahama has been listed as one of the most expensive islands in The Bahamas to fly to. The airport is owned jointly by Hutchison Whampoa and the Grand Bahama Port Authority.
Thompson said the RCI/ITM deal is a “win-win” for all of Grand Bahama given that “there will be an incentive for passengers to be moved from the harbor area to the Port Lucaya area, which has always been a challenge”.
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