DPM assures Grand Lucayan deal continues to move forward

Deputy Prime Minister K. Peter Turnquest, Minister of Finance.

Deputy Prime Minister of The Bahamas K. Peter Turnquest, Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for East Grand Bahama assured that the Grand Lucayan deal continues to move forward, during an exclusive interview with The Freeport News on Monday, June 23.

He furthered that the government is currently in negotiations regarding the Heads of Agreement (HOA).

“We expect that that’s going to be completed, certainly, by the Fall in the timeframe that was originally given,” he said.

The DPM added that there is no reason to suspect that there are any difficulties which would prevent this.

“We look forward to that project closing as soon as possible, so that we can move on to the next phase with the construction-demolition of the new facility,” he said.

The DPM noted that generally speaking, all of the government’s Grand Bahama-based projects are progressing and this also includes the Carnival Cruise Port.

“We expect that those are going to come to a successful conclusion relatively quickly,” he said.

He revealed that the significant activity regarding these projects should be seen by the end of the year.

In March of this year it was revealed that it would take six months for the government to complete a heads of agreement (HoA) with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL) and the ITM Group for the sale of the Grand Lucayan Resort on Grand Bahama, by Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar.

The Bahamian Government announced the signing of the letter of intent (LOI), which confirmed the agreement to enter into exclusive negotiations with the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) and ITM Group for the purchase of the Grand Lucayan Resort and the redevelopment of the Freeport Harbour, Wednesday (March 27) at the Office of the Prime Minister.

This joint venture project between RCCL and ITM was assured to not only combine the redevelopment of the Freeport Harbour as a cruise port of choice but will also transform the Grand Lucayan Resort into a theme park, featuring water-based family entertainment, with dining, gaming and entertainment options, and five-star hotel accommodations.

This project would reportedly bring the passengers, provide the experience and integrate and connect visitor experiences at the Freeport Harbour and their experiences at the hotel property, maximizing opportunities for locals throughout the island, particularly in the Port Lucaya area.

Thompson stated that the redevelopment of the Freeport Harbour is anticipated to include a significant increase in cruise ship arrivals bringing an additional approximately two million passengers annually with the addition of multiple cruise lines calling on Grand Bahama.

The $195 million investment earmarked for the first phase of the project over a 24-month period will include the purchase price of $65 million. Approximately 2,000 jobs are expected to be created in the first phase.

He revealed that discussions leading to a Heads of Agreement, subject to the approval of the National Economic Council will begin immediately on matters related to Bahamian employment requirements and Bahamian participation in specific areas. However, it is anticipated that Bahamians will have significant ownership participation in restaurants, retail stores, transportation and watersports.

The government purchased the resort last year for $65 million, with $30 million paid upfront.

In February 2019, Carnival Cruise Lines announced plans to create a mega cruise port in Grand Bahama which is expected to create opportunities for at least 1,000 jobs.

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