Royal Caribbean VP: COVID-19 will not slow down GB project

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is so far not threatening the future progress of Royal Caribbean International (RCI) and ITM Group’s Grand Bahama project, RCI’s Vice President of Government Relations for the Americas Russell Benford said yesterday.

Benford, who spoke to Guardian Business yesterday, said because of the joint venture nature of the project between the two international companies, the development will move forward as planned despite the global threat of the virus.

“So the project in Grand Bahama is actually a joint venture between Royal Caribbean and the ITM Group, which is a Mexican-based tourism group,” Benford said.

“They’re tourism as well, but that company, ITM Group, has a lot of real estate holdings, so because it’s a joint venture development, it’s not all a Royal Caribbean project and we have a lot of other partners who are going to come online and run the hotel, so we don’t foresee any slowdown with the construction or demolition.”

RCI and ITM are expected to redevelop the Grand Lucayan resort, as well as Freeport’s cruise port.

On March 2 the government officially signed a heads of agreement (HOA) with Bahamas Port Investments Limited – the joint venture company forged by RCI and ITM.

About $300 million is expected to be invested into the Grand Lucayan property to refurbish, renovate and reconstruct 500 rooms in phase one and another 500 rooms along with 500 villas in phase two.

The plan will also include a casino, water park, restaurant and retail center.

Benford said the companies, despite the global economic fallout expected as a result of COVID-19, expect the refurbished Grand Lucayan to open in 2022 and to create thousands of jobs for Grand Bahamians.

JUMPLINE: $300 million to be invested into Grand Lucayan

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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