The closing of Memories Grand Bahama Beach and Casino Resort and more than 500 employees joining the unemployment line, was a major disappointment for Grand Bahama, said Deputy Leader of the Free National Movement, Peter Turnquest, MP for East Grand Bahama.
Turnquest made this statement, during a recent interview with this daily.
“It is unfortunate what has happened with respect to Memories. It was a lot more than a week or two before the Minister of Tourism (Obie Wilchcombe) gave the assurance that they were working with Memories and that Memories was going to be opened, I think it was April or May.
“Then to have this blow, it has been a serious disappointment to the island,” Turnquest added.
He stated that Memories closing would have a huge impact on the island’s economy due to the number of resort employees who lost their jobs.
Turnquest noted that many of those former employees head single homes that depended solely on that income to support their families.
"This is a significant blow to the economy,” he reiterated.
Comparing Memories closing to a ‘second hurricane,’ Turnquest said the “move” is causing residents to lose hope.
“A lot of persons are now contemplating leaving the island, which is going to cause an even more significant economic crisis for us,” he said.
According to Turnquest, as the island’s population diminishes businesses would find it more difficult to stay open as well. Vendors in the Port Lucaya Marketplace would also be negatively affected, because there would probably be less tourist traffic in the area.
“Even though we have had disruptions in the tourism sector before, we’ve never had it to this extent where it just seems like it is difficult to even get it started again,” he said.
Turnquest suggested that the government should make a strong effort to entice Hutchison Port Holdings to make the necessary repairs in Memories, or find a new partner to restart the island’s tourism product; because it is essential to the island’s economy.
He believes that if a solution to this issue is not found in ‘short order,’ even more significant effects would arise in the overall ‘anemic’ level of activity on Grand Bahama.
The resort sustained major infrastructural damages in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew nearly four months ago and has left the island’s tourism sector in a precarious position.
Since the passage of Hurricane Matthew, insurance adjustors traveled to Grand Bahama to assess damages incurred at the Memories Resort.
In January this year, The Freeport News learned that $2.5 million was allocated by The Bahamas Government to accelerate the post-Hurricane Matthew repair work at Memories Grand Bahama Beach and Casino Resort.
However, the Sunwing Travel Group, which partnered with the Bahamian Government on Memories, announced that they were required to vacate the resort’s premises on January 29, 2017.
Published Wednesday, February 8, 2017