Three bids were submitted to the government on Friday, and opened yesterday, making way for the beginning stages of a process that will lead to the redevelopment of Nassau’s cruise port.
Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar told Guardian Business yesterday that the three entities bidding to redesign, redevelop and manage the busiest cruise port in the Caribbean region were Global Ports Holding, a collective bid from several cruise companies with local representation by Bahamian businessman Gerald Strachan, and a group represented by Providence Advisors.
D’Aguilar said he was happy to see that all of the bids included local representation. Global Ports is the company that submitted the unsolicited bid to the government along with Arawak Port Development Limited (APD), which manages the container port at Arawak Cay.
“I’m very excited that all of the bids included a Bahamian component and calls for Bahamian investment. We’ll see which one will generate the most benefits for the Bahamian people,” he said.
According to D’Aguilar, an evaluation committee, which will scrutinize the bids, has already been formed and will be headed by Director General of the Ministry of Tourism Joy Jibrilu. Jibrilu was the former director of the Bahamas Investment Authority. D’Aguilar said the government will release the names of the rest of the committee members in a press statement.
D’Aguilar said when the committee has completed its evaluation of the bids, it will make a recommendation to Cabinet, which will then make a decision on whether or not to carry on with the committee’s suggestion.
He said the committee will look at several factors listed in the bids, especially the financial impact provided by the proposals.
“The evaluation committee will make a recommendation of which one brings the most benefits to the Bahamian people,” D’Aguilar said.
The request for proposals (RFP) calls for the successful bidder to provide plans for redeveloping parts of the port and Bay Street to enhance the guest experience by increasing the tourism offering, improving traffic and circulation, and engaging the merchants and vendors in the area in a way that will improve foot traffic to their properties.
The RFP also states that bidders must meet applicable Bahamian and international standards for a cruise port operator. They must demonstrate success in setting up operations plans, security plans, maintenance plans and setting up the information technology infrastructure and supporting systems to efficiently operate a cruise port. Bidders must also have qualified and experienced staff in each area of cruise port operations and have experience in negotiations with cruise lines to maximize traffic and revenue through cruise ports. They should be able to demonstrate sufficient financial capabilities by possessing equity capitalization and having access to borrowed funds which, together, must amount to at least $100 million; demonstrate a track record, supported by references, to undertake investments of the nature required to execute the project; and show significant local participation by persons or businesses resident (as defined for exchange control purposes) in The Bahamas.
While the evaluation process was scheduled to be about 21 days, D’Aguilar explained that the Christmas and New Year holidays could push that time frame back slightly.