A Grand Bahama hotelier yesterday called the prime minister’s recent announcement of a $350 million investment in the Grand Bahama Shipyard enormously positive news for the island.
Pelican Bay General Manager Magnus Alnebeck said his business has suffered losses since the accident at the shipyard in 2019, when at least eight people were injured after a crane collapsed onto Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas cruise ship, which was docked for maintenance.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced on Monday that the redevelopment project will be completed via a partnership between the Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines. It will include the replacement of two damaged docks with larger ones capable of handling and servicing the largest ships in the world.
“That is an enormously positive thing for Grand Bahama. I think we always underestimate how much the shipyard actually means for Grand Bahama in general. Before they had the dock accident in 2019, 30 percent of our room revenue was associated with businesses that were doing work at the shipyard or housing people at the shipyard, et cetera,” Alnebeck told Guardian Business.
“So, if that gets up and running with two new dry docks as I understand it, that is enormously positive news for Pelican Bay and also for Grand Bahama in general.”
Minnis said work on the project is slated to begin as early as October this year, adding that it will result in a notable increase in employment and economic activity on Grand Bahama.
“I’m feeling optimistic if I take it in relation to where we have been. I mean, if you look at Grand Bahama first with Hurricane Matthew, then the accident at the shipyard – which really had the same affect as a hurricane in itself – and then Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19, Grand Bahama has really had four knockdowns over the last four years,” Alnebeck said about the government’s plans for the island.
“So, everything is going in the right direction. Of course, some of us would have liked it to go quicker and bigger, but there is no question it is going in the right direction.”
Alnebeck said with that major project nearly squared away, the government must push to finalize the sale of the Grand Lucayan resort, if Grand Bahama is to see any notable economic relief in the near future.
“The main challenge is to get the Grand Lucayan situation sorted out, so that there is work over there and we know what is happening. I think when that happens, we will get more airlift and things will take off a little bit more,” he said.
“We have now solved the airport problem when government took that over, so now, of course, the big thing is to get the Grand Lucayan deal finalized.”
The Minnis administration has frequently highlighted the economic revitalization of Grand Bahama as a priority, having purchased Grand Bahama International Airport several weeks ago with plans to redevelop it. The government also purchased the Grand Lucayan in 2018 for $65 million and is currently in the process of selling the property to Royal Caribbean and ITM Group.