Monday, July 1, 2013
Monday, July 1, 2013
Here follows remarks by Prime Minister Perry Christie at the opening of Resorts World Bimini Casino June 28:
I am most delighted to be here today in the blissful, enchanting island of Bimini, along with my wife, Cabinet colleagues and a host of dignitaries, officials, invited guests and the good people of Bimini to with participate Mr K T Lim the chairman of Resorts World and the Genting Group and Mr Gerado Capo the president of RAV Bahamas and their teams in the grand opening of Resorts World Bimini Casino.
This exciting, integrated resort project is nestled in a pristine and culturally rich environment, surrounded by the azure Bahamian sea and the warm gulf stream teaming with marine life. Bimini has a fabled past, a colourful and rich history, charming, welcoming people, a distinct culture and traditions, which beckon the world to enjoy genuine hospitality.
What we are witnessing here today is a stellar manifestation of confidence by the developers in the government and people of The Bahamas.
This project is being realized through the combined investments of a leading Florida builder and real estate developer, Mr Gerado Capo through his company RAV Bahamas Ltd and the Genting/Resorts World Group, a leading international resort, gaming, cruise line, agriculture and energy conglomerate based in Malaysia.
During my government’s first term in office, through amicable negotiations, the original Heads of Agreement between the government of The Bahamas and RAV Bahamas Ltd, were amended for environmental reasons and to reduce the density of the project.
Today, Bimini Bay is an aesthetically and architecturally pleasing 750-acre oceanfront resort community consisting of luxury homes and condos, comprising 480 residences the majority of which are in the hotel pool, the largest yacht marina complex in The Bahamas able to accommodate yachts up to two hundred feet, restaurants, magnificent pools, an open air shopping village and a tennis center.
About a year ago, just after my second term in office began, it was my government’s great pleasure to welcome and approve a joint venture between RAV Bahamas and Genting (USA) Ltd, a subsidiary of Resorts World to undertake a joint venture partnership known as BB Entertainment Ltd in connection with the development and operation of a modern, cutting edge casino and related facilities, which today is a reality in “bold and living colour.”
Simultaneously with the casino opening, I am most pleased to confirm Resorts World’s further and broader involvement in the long-term leasing and management of this splendid resort.
In order to increase overall occupancy and to transform this resort into a year round destination, a strategic transformation plan is being implemented that addresses product placement, procurement of affordable transportation with express cruise ship ferry and airlift offering special rates, island infrastructural improvement, resort activity enhancement, the implementation of an effective marketing strategy, human resource development and training to deliver a world class service.
There are plans by the developer to market the resort as a haven for boating, yachting and water sports and feature tours of Alice and Bailey’s Towns, attractions, dining and entertainment experiences. The resort will also offer fishing, diving excursions, beach volleyball, tennis, snorkelling, scuba, a wild dolphin adventure, kayaking, mangrove boat tours, paddle boarding, sunset celebration cruises. A signature spa, interactive children’s center, new cigar lounge, wine and cheese bar are to be included.
Today’s grand opening really began in Miami earlier today at the lavish christening ceremonies for the magnificent cruise ship Superfast VI, with a capacity for up to 3000 passengers which will operate daily between Miami and Bimini with a ferry time of two hours beginning next week.
The capital costs to Resorts World associated with the acquisition and introduction of the cruise ferry services is some $95 million. Following environment approval, Resorts World will also build at its expense a deep water jetty and terminal for a cost of some $10 million at which the Superfast VI and two mega yachts will dock. Until the dock is completed later this year, the developer has acquired two large catamarans to be used as tenders.
The cruise ferry will provide a comfortable, inexpensive (under $50), and fast mode of transportation to Bimini for both tourists and residents of Bimini, thus ensuring a steady influx of guests to support revenue streams, and affordable transportation for the people of Bimini.
In addition, the developer is undertaking a number of public/private/partnerships and community enhancement endeavours with the Government. Resorts World will bear the initial costs of the following capital and public works and recover the costs over a period of time from casino tax deductions:
• Upgrading of airport facilities, including extension of runway, terminal building, lighting and aids for night flights.
• Paving and upgrading of streets, lighting, landscaping, general community clean up and painting.
• Preparation of a Master Plan by the leading planning firm EDSA with public input, which will guide the orderly growth and development of Bimini, proper Bimini building codes, controlled and orderly vehicles and marine transportation, creation of public spaces and community facilities, public accommodations, sports, education and health facilities, housing, etc.
The economic impact on the local economy will be enormous as Resorts World proceeds rapidly in concert with the government to turn Bimini into one of the most attractive destinations in The Bahamas, having due regard to the environment, local culture and traditions.
Some 400 new direct jobs are being created this year alone, as well as numerous entrepreneurial opportunities which Biminites are urged to plan for and embrace. Due to the limited size of the labour pool in Bimini, Bahamians from Grand Bahama, New Providence and the Family Islands are also finding employment here.
Major areas of economic activity which are normally reserved for Bahamians are ground and marine transportation and water sports activities. In another good example of public/private/partnership between the developers and the government in extending economic opportunities to a greater number of Bahamians, I am pleased to announce that the Hotel Corporation of The Bahamas has formed the company Bahamas Hotel Corporation Tourism Services (Bimini) Ltd, which will operate Resorts World Bimini Transportation and water sports activities, but not to the exclusion of existing public transportation franchise holders.
The people of Bimini will be offered shares in this company, which will operate according to the standards of equipment and service required by Resorts World. Arrangements are being concluded under which the Developer will meet costs of equipment and transfer ownership to Bahamas Hotel Corporation Tourism Services (Bimini) Ltd. The costs will be recovered in an agreed schedule of repayments.
We are delivering big time for the people of Bimini, and we continue to say to them “You will not be looking through the window of development” instead, Biminites will be in the room as front line participants.
I wish again to commend the Chairman of the Genting/Resorts World Group, for his valuable assistance in other vital areas of our economy.
He volunteered to me last year to have Genting Energy experts undertake at significant cost, a national energy and water study with recommendations on reducing costs. He delivered on that undertaking within three months. The Group has now gone further and provided the government with a very interesting and appealing energy and water proposal which could considerably reduce costs of electricity and water, improve efficiencies and relieve the government of capital debt burdens.
Resorts World which owns 50 per cent of Norwegian Cruise lines is expanding its modern fleet of cruise ships. Over the next seven months Norwegian’s two new cruise ships will include The Bahamas on their itineraries, originating from New York and Fort Lauderdale.
On another front, the Chairman and his team are assisting us with contacts which might help us to find a strategic airline partner to provide much needed expanded, efficient airlift.
My government pledges its fullest cooperation in working with the developers for the success of their Bimini project and looks forward to their embracing further opportunities in The Bahamas and a prosperous future.
It remains for me to say to the people of Bimini and to all who work in this resort, on the Superfast cruise ship, and related facilities, that my expectations are the quality of your service should be second to none, delivering on the promise that “It’s Better in The Bahamas.”
This stellar event takes place during the 40th Anniversary celebrations of our nation’s independence. It is most tangible evidence of progress in our march “Forward, Upward and Onward Together.”
It is my great pleasure to declare Resorts World Bimini Casino open for business.