The finalization of the sale of the Grand Lucayan resort to Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and the ITM Group means there is hope for Grand Bahama, Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson said yesterday in the Senate.
The government is expected to sign a sales agreement with the purchasers on Monday morning.
“One of the most pressing and most anticipated current projects for Grand Bahama is the Bahamas port investments project, which encompasses the sale and full operation and restoration of the Grand Lucayan. It involves creation of a water park, it involves the rebirth of our cruise industry in Grand Bahama, it involves the increase in our airlift and a major injection in our transportation industry and an increase in our visitor count in Grand Bahama,” Thompson said.
“Where we are now, we have been able to identify a partner who is well known to The Bahamas, who has done a number of developments inside The Bahamas and we have not just sold a hotel, but for the first time been able to create a linkage between the harbor and that major hotel to the island, creating a complete destination. We are so very pleased that this coming Monday that we will be able to sign a heads of agreement (HOA) and we will be able to sign a purchase agreement for this.”
Thompson said a part of the agreement includes a commitment to providing airlift to the island for the success of the project.
“We are hopeful that this development will provide jobs at the new cruise port, that it will provide jobs at the hotel development, that it will also provide jobs in Port Lucaya, that it will provide jobs for the transportation industry that it’s going to move people from the harbor to the hotel. We are hopeful that this will bring millions more additional cruise passengers to the island because of the new cruise port,” he said.
“And the new cruise port involves bringing additional cruise lines that have never had regular scheduled trips to Grand Bahama. We are hopeful that it will bring additional airlift passengers because included in the arrangement is guaranteed airlift that is going to come to the island for years.”
Grand Bahama’s economy has been in shambles for years now and took another dive when the Grand Lucayan was shuttered following Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
The government purchased the hotel for $65 million in 2016.
“This was never about just buying a hotel. I remember standing in this very place and saying ‘what Grand Bahama requires is for us to create a new destination for it’. This really is about delivering on this commitment in providing a new destination for Grand Bahama. It has been announced that the Royal Caribbean cruise line and the ITM Group will develop the Freeport Harbour as a cruise port and will transform the Grand Lucayan resort and make it into a hotel and a theme park,” Thompson said.
“Significant demand for both airlift and sealift to the destination is being created. Many speak to the economy of Grand Bahama and for years our economy has been challenged, our economy still remains challenged. But one of the things that we must do and we have done is to make the difficult decision to purchase the hotel, with an intention to sell the hotel but to sell it to somebody who could create that destination that we so desperately needed.”