While Disney Cruise Line (DCL) has not officially provided any updates on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its plans for a new cruise port at Lighthouse Point, Bahamian Contractors Association President Michael Pratt said he’s been assured that the project is moving forward.
DCL submitted its environmental impact assessment (EIA) to the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission (BEST) for approval earlier this year and is unable to commence any construction activities on the site until the government has accepted the EIA.
Pratt said in his last conversation with DCL officials, he was told the investors are ready to mobilize as soon as they are given the green light.
“In terms of construction, I can’t really say what is going on there, but I do know that they are still moving ahead with their own planning in-house and operations. So, as soon as the economy opens back up and they can move again, I think they are. I heard from them a couple weeks back and they are gearing up and ready to go,” he told Guardian Business.
“The project, as far as I know, is still going forward, but in terms of the workers on the ground, I don’t have that information.”
DCL did not respond to requests from Guardian Business for further information on its plans for the project in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government signed a heads of agreement with DCL on March 7, 2019.
The project is pegged to cost anywhere between $250 million to $400 million.
DCL has committed to employ at least 120 Bahamians during the construction phase of the project and maintain a ratio of 80 percent Bahamian workers and 20 percent non-Bahamian workers during the life of the construction phase.
The cruise industry – which generates $150 billion globally on an annual basis – has been the hardest hit in the global travel and hospitality sector since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of borders around the world.
Most cruise lines, including DCL, cannot resume sailing until September 15, following advisories by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
Royal Caribbean International – which has plans to develop a cruise port in Freeport, Grand Bahama – has indicated that while it is currently re-evaluating plans and timelines for all of its projects during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is still committed to the project.