Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson said yesterday the government remains “very hopeful about the progress” of the development of the Carnival Cruise Port and sale of the Grand Lucayan resort.
“We are pleased that given what has taken place in the world and particularly with the tourism industry that both developers have indicated their willingness to proceed with these projects although there may be adjustments to the timelines because of COVID-19,” Thompson told The Nassau Guardian.
“Carnival Cruise Port project is in the permitting stage and work continues. With respect to the Royal Caribbean/ITM project, Holistica has confirmed they are committed to and moving forward with the project.
“Holistica also informed us that they are working closely with cruise lines to develop strategies for Grand Bahama to increase cruise ship visits even before the completion of the project. These will obviously be subject to any cruise ship restrictions and our own government’s policy.”
He noted that the government is looking forward to a meeting to “further discuss” post-pandemic details and timelines.
“This is positive news with respect to both projects and the government is dedicated and confident that despite being hit with the worst hurricane in our history and now COVID-19 — one of the worse economic disasters — we will recover,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s comments follow those of Global Ports Holding Chairman Mehmet Kutman who recently told The Guardian that Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruise Line could delay their multimillion-dollar Grand Bahama projects for two years or more due to the financial hardship cruise lines have faced during the pandemic.
Royal Caribbean, along with the ITM group, signed a heads of agreement at the beginning of March to commence the redevelopment of the Grand Lucayan resort complex in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Last month, Royal Caribbean International said it was re-evaluating plans and timelines for all of its projects during the pandemic, which could put the company’s start and finish dates for its hotel and port redevelopment on Grand Bahama in limbo.
In March, Carnival Vice President for Development and Operations David Candib said the company’s commitment to its nearly $200 million cruise port on Grand Bahama, which is expected to create at least 1,500 jobs, had “not changed” in the wake of the health crisis.