Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced yesterday the government will redevelop the area from Arawak Cay to Junkanoo Beach into an entertainment and cultural center, that would be a tax-free zone and include amenities such as a skybridge and water taxis.
The development is still in the planning phase as the government conducts stakeholder meetings with various groups.
“To help boost Bahamian ownership in the tourism sector and to significantly boost spending by Bahamians and cruise ship passengers, we are proposing the redevelopment of the area from Fish Fry to Junkanoo Beach, to Long Wharf,” said Minnis as he contributed to the budget debate.
“This new entertainment area for Nassau will result in scores of Bahamians going to the waterfront for entertainment and relaxation on a weekly basis.
“We will enhance and beautify the area for Junkanoo practices…cookouts…festivals and other events. Like Saunders Beach and Montagu Beach, we will enhance the beaches and swimming areas for Bahamians and visitors.”
Minnis said with over 20,000 cruise ship visitors coming to Bahamian shores daily, ways must be found to attract those tourists to key cultural areas such as Fish Fry, Clifford Park and others.
“We now propose to expand the development of these areas into a major retail and entertainment center,” he continued.
“There will be enhanced security and measures to ensure the proper and ongoing maintenance of this redeveloped area.
“This area will have Wi-Fi free facilities.”
He noted that this is important because while the focus is mainly placed on cruise ship visitors, workers on those cruise ships are often overlooked and can also be entertained at these facilities.
“We will also use smart technology to ensure the safety and security of Bahamians and visitors,” the prime minister said.
“These areas will be transformed into a major retail, restaurant, entertainment and cultural area, in which businesses are owned solely by Bahamians.”
Minnis said this will be a tax-free zone just like inner city communities. However, Arawak Cay vendors would not be permitted to take advantage of these concessions unless their rent is paid and their accounts are current.
He further indicated that plans are in the works to transform Clifford Park into a central park for New Providence and to provide a safe passageway for visitors to get there.
“To connect Clifford Park to the redeveloped waterfront area, we are proposing a skybridge,” he said.
“…This skybridge will help with safety for pedestrians, and will provide a beautiful view of Nassau Harbour.”
In addition to the skybridge, the government hopes to see water taxis come on stream to help drive cruise passenger traffic to the area.
“We intend to enter into discussions with the taxi union executive and taxi and tour drivers to become owners of these water taxis,” Minnis added.
“This has the potential to boost income for many taxi drivers, with many more cruise passengers coming off the ships.
“…The government will fund travel for taxi union executives to visit St. Thomas and or St. Martin to see how water taxis work in those destinations… The idea, Mr. Speaker, is for many millions more to be spent from cruise passengers while in Nassau, because there will be more to do throughout the city of Nassau and New Providence.”
The new development is also set to coincide with the government’s enhancement and beautification of the downtown area.
“We must have a dedicated entity or public/private mechanism to ensure that downtown is better maintained,” the prime minister proclaimed.
“Such an entity must work in tandem with the Downtown Nassau Partnership. This must be and is a priority.”
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications