This letter is to the current government, any future government and the citizens of Grand Bahama.
First thing I would like to say is that we vacationed in the Bahamas since the '70s and have been through the islands from Abaco to Georgetown, Exuma. The Bahamian islands are like a second home to myself and our family and we have made many memories and good friends during our travels. Finally, we decided upon giving up the boating world and to settle down on one of the beautiful Bahamian islands. With much consideration, we felt the children would be safe and that there would be enough things to do to of interest for all on Grand Bahama Island. Freeport became our vacation residence in 2000.
At that time there was a booming economy here and it seemed that there was always something to do. We spent many a nights at the Bazaar properties, the Princess Casino and Port Lucaya. The atmosphere always felt up-scale with the entertainment and great restaurants. We always felt safe and we knew we had made the right decision in setting up a home here in Freeport.
After the hurricanes in 2004, the island took a terrible hit. Many properties were destroyed and of course one of the major properties, the Princess, took a very hard hit. The owner determined that they were not going to re-build and the government of the day, allowed the group to leave without much resistance. Many jobs were lost and things seemed to be slowly going down. The Bazaar never came back to what it was and it seemed no one cared from the tourist point of view of reinvigorating the property. The hotel was left for the homeless and then stripped so that now it’s worthless. The casino never reopened and the tourism in that area went totally downhill. It appeared that nobody cared.
Now, here we are in 2016, post Matthew and it appears the exact same thing is happening again, except this time to the Port Lucaya area. The Grand Lucayan Hotel, which has been a landmark for tourists has shut its doors with no serious interest, it seems, in re-opening, selling or leasing. This means more employees out of work. I was told that Treasure Bay did not renew the lease and as such, has closed its doors and again ... more employees out of work. Memories Resort has closed its doors with a vague promise to reopen in May. As well, several restaurants and shops in Port Lucaya are also closing their doors. What will happen to all of these employees who were not expecting these businesses to close? How will they survive here? What is the government doing to attract interest to this island? Here we have glorious beaches with amazing infrastructure, incredible land with your choices of beach, canal or inland properties. The tour companies have come up with great ideas for things to do on this island for a day venture or for weeks. But, it again appears that no one is interested in tourism, hotel, casino and real estate. All the attractions seem to be going to the other islands including many of the local families and jobs.
In closing, the casino should be sold to a company that is in the hotel/casino business to ensure that they can be profitable in their venture and ensure longevity. Hutchison should not be able to hold onto the Grand Lucayan Hotel inevitably or we will see another great loss on this island. Things on the island seem very skewed currently and the sip sip is that there are no plans to try to revitalize these various businesses. What can be done to help the economy on this beautiful island and who will make the commitment to ensure that the families that live here and the tourists that have visited or bought here will continue to see growth? Please ensure that this precious jewel, the island of Grand Bahama, is not left to the current pattern of destruction.
~ 2nd Home Owner, Freeport Grand Bahama.
Published Thursday, January 19, 2017