Stating that no one project can revive Grand Bahama, the island’s chamber of commerce president said the hope is that the redevelopment of the Grand Lucayan resort and Freeport Harbour by Royal Caribbean International (RCI) and the ITM Group will attract more investment to the island.
Greg Laroda said the signing of a sales purchase agreement and the heads of agreement (HOA) on Monday signifies that the island is a step closer to a recovered economy, but it is not the only solution.
“Ever since the hotel on the Lucayan strip closed or scaled back significantly its operation, the talk on Grand Bahama has been that for our economy to recover, we need to reopen those hotels, we need to get activity back on the Lucayan strip,” he said yesterday on Guardian Talk Radio show “Morning Blend”.
“All the details to my knowledge have not been worked out completely yet, but it seems inevitable that the deal will be made and finalized. I’ve seen some of the plans and they appear to be very ambitious. I think it will be a significant boost should they become reality. But no one project is going to be the answer. What I hope would happen is that once this project is off the ground and others see it, it’ll be a means of attracting other people to the area.”
The $300 million redevelopment of the Grand Lucayan resort and the development of a cruise port, along with plans by Carnival Corporation to invest $100 million to develop its own cruise port on Grand Bahama, demonstrates a shifting away from the heavily industrialized economy Grand Bahama has long sustained toward a more tourist-centric type, Laroda pointed out.
However, he said one does not have to replace the other.
“When you look at what’s going on now with Royal Caribbean and Carnival, I think we’ve probably already committed to tourism being a major part of the economy here on Grand Bahama. I feel like the island itself is large enough to accommodate both. I know that with the Royal Caribbean deal there’s a plan for the development of the harbor, more cruise berths and then to make it look more touristic,” he said.
“We need to look at how we get both to exist in the same space. So there probably has to be some separation, but definitely we can’t go away from the industrial side of development. And we also need to not just rely on industrial and look at how we can develop the tourism product, especially from an ecotourism standpoint on Grand Bahama, we have a lot to offer.”
Bahamas Port Investments Limited, the body formed by RCI and the ITM Group, are eyeing a 2022 completion of the project.