Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced on Friday that the government has struck a deal with Carnival Cruise Line for a cruise port in Grand Bahama, noting that the project is moving “full speed ahead”.
While speaking at the Torchbearers Youth Association’s convention, Minnis said, “Tonight, we have great news to report. Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to announce that after many months of negotiations, we have delivered a deal for Grand Bahama.”
He continued, “Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to confirm that the government has delivered a massive project for the people of Grand Bahama.
“This evening I am pleased to inform residents of Grand Bahama and the entire Bahamas that the Carnival port development is going full speed ahead.
“Grand Bahama, the change you asked for is about to happen.”
The Nassau Guardian understands that the project is expected to cost at least $100 million.
In February, the prime minister announced the project, noting that it is expected to produce more than 1,000 direct and indirect permanent jobs on the island.
The port will be developed in Sharp Rock, just four miles east of Lucaya in Freeport.
Minnis has insisted that the new project will adhere to strict environmental guidelines.
On Saturday, Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson said he was “extremely pleased” by the announcement.
“I think that it is going to have a tremendous impact on unemployment on the island,” Thompson told The Nassau Guardian.
“I think the development in itself is a very important development. I think it’s important for unemployment reasons but it’s also important because the development speaks to Bahamians being able to own restaurant businesses [and] retail businesses.
“It speaks to Bahamians having opportunity [as] tour operators and taxi drivers, so it’s going to have a tremendous impact on the island.”
In November 2018, the unemployment rate in Grand Bahama stood at 11.9 percent.
However, in the most recent labor force survey, which was conducted in May 2019, the rate was 10.9 percent.
The prime minister has said that the new port will add to the government’s plan for a revitalized Grand Bahama.
During his speech on Friday, Minnis also announced that another Carnival development in The Bahamas is progressing.
“Tonight, it is also my pleasure to report to the nation that the Half Moon Cay development project is also proceeding swiftly,” he said.
Last month, the Central Bank of The Bahamas’ Quarterly Economic and Financial Developments (QEFD) report revealed that HAL Properties Limited, the owner of Carnival Corporation, was approved to expand its beach entertainment facility on Half Moon Cay, with plans to construct more facilities including a cruise pier on the island.
Carnival’s projects and renovations are expected to cost $80 million.