As the end of the year draws closer, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar strayed away from his stance earlier this year that the sale of the Grand Lucayan resort on Grand Bahama would be finalized by year’s end.
In July, D’Aguilar was firm on his position that the resort would be sold to Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) and the ITM Group by the end of the year, but yesterday said negotiations have taken a turn.
“Negotiations always take twists and turns and I’m very positive, I’m very upbeat, I’m very optimistic, but we don’t yet have a deal. And negotiations you cannot put a finite date or timeline on when they’re going to be concluded,” D’Aguilar told reporters yesterday outside the Churchill Building.
“There are always asks and gives and negotiations and that’s just the nature of negotiations. And while the press may want a hard and fast date to hold us to, it will happen when it happens. But I am optimistic that it will.”
Asked specifically what those twists and turns were, D’Aguilar said, “When you are negotiating you don’t want to show people your hand and allow people to get into the particulars of it. Just rest assured that we are negotiating the best possible deal for the Bahamian people.”
The government signed a letter of intent with RCL and the ITM Group for the purchase of the resort for $65 million and the redevelopment of Freeport Harbour.
The renovation and reopening of the property is considered critical to the resuscitation of Grand Bahama’s economy.
Repairing Grand Bahama International Airport (GBIA) to increase international air traffic in order to support the successful reopening of the property has also been considered crucial to that island’s economy.
While the government said it was negotiating the possible purchase of GBIA following the passage of Hurricane Dorian in September, D’Aguilar said yesterday that the government is willing to purchase whenever the airport’s owners make the decision to sell.
“I think that the present owner, the Grand Bahama Airport Company, has to conclude on the decision to sell if they want to do that and the terms would obviously have to be negotiated. There are a lot of moving parts as a part of that negotiation that I’d rather not discuss in the public domain,” he said.
“Just be aware that the operator of that airport is potentially looking to sell and the government of The Bahamas is potentially looking to buy. The particulars, nuances and facts of the deal are not ready to be discussed in the public domain. There are a lot of things going on in the background that they’d have to sort out if they want to do it that have not been done, so let that play out and when they are prepared to make a formal request for the government to acquire, I’m sure we’ll consider it at the time.”