Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
We have gathered here today for the signing of an historic Agreement with Carnival Cruise Lines for the establishment of a cruise port and destination in Eastern Grand Bahama. In order to achieve this, it took painstaking and lengthy negotiations between my Government and the principals of the Freeport Harbour Company to negotiate a Waiver of Exclusivity Agreement of their Exclusivity Rights on all ports in Grand Bahamas, which had been granted by the previous administration.
Carnival has agreed to engage Bahamians in every aspect of construction and development of the new cruise port, valued at one hundred ($100) million dollars, with added emphasis on Bahamian participation in the supply and sales of products and services, including retail, entertainment, art & craft, food production, sports and fitness.
Ladies and gentlemen, this Carnival new cruise port initiative in East Grand Bahama will deliver a cruise port in the traditional sense, but more than that, its Shore Project will create a new ‘destination’ with a distinctive flavour and characteristics that offer the broadest Bahamian entrepreneurial and employment opportunities, representing another phase in the development of Grand Bahama, as a viable tourist centre.
And, it is expected to have a significant impact on the communities of Eastern Grand Bahama, providing cruise visitors with Bahamian-owned products infused with Bahamian flavour, delivering natural attractions and historic sites and creating myriad entrepreneurial opportunities in fishing, farm products, local handicrafts, art, entertainment, water sports, retail, fitness, logistics and administration.
Carnival has also agreed to provide employment to qualified Bahamians as crew members on board the corporation’s cruise ships, with positions commensurate to their qualifications and certifications.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, my Government welcomes this opportunity to set in motion events which will memorialize the longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship between Carnival Cruise Lines, the world’s largest and most successful cruise line, and The Bahamas.
Carnival currently commands 60 per cent of the global cruise industry of 24 million passengers of which 12 million originate from the USA and Canada. Not only is passenger growth on the rise, the industry is diversifying – moving from mere distribution to development of new destinations to retain strong market share and industry capture.
In 2017 international cruise lines offered cruise ports on a total of seven (7) private islands and The Bahamas, as an archipelago, is ideally suited and positioned to capture the lion’s share of this business and capitalize on its economic benefits.
International cruise lines now have the highest passenger repeat factor – 62 per cent in travel and tourism – and the industry is rapidly expanding with investments of $6.8 billion in new ocean vessels. I am advised that 48 new ocean liners are currently on order to launch within the next two years.
The new cruise port development here in Grand Bahama will encompass multiple projects inclusive of construction of the channel, docks, water taxi and work boat piers, berthing platforms, seawalls and turning basin to accommodate two super post Panamex Ships.
The expansive Shore Project will comprise a 20-bed hotel, an 18-hole miniature golf course, restaurants, food and beverage pavilions, shops, nightclubs, amphitheatre, aquatic and other recreational and sporting facilities as well as pedestrian and cycling trails. There will also be interactive amenities, such as stingray and dolphin encounters, animal exhibitions and petting zoo.
Central to the overall development will be the construction of a “Harbour Town” with retail shops, a Bahamian Art plaza and such Back of Town facilities as storage and security houses, administrative complexes, utility services and a transportation hub offering more entrepreneurial opportunities for local taxi and tour operators.
This build-out, on 226 acres of land in Eastern Grand Bahama, is expected to be completed within twenty-four months of receipt of all of the relevant government approvals.
Ladies and gentlemen, the projected impact of Carnival’s cruise port on employment cannot be overstated. Bahamian entrepreneurs operating at the new port will need to draw on wide range of local vendors such as sub-contractors, architects, landscapers, tradesmen, technicians, security, marine specialists, retail workers and other service specialists.
As development of this new cruise port takes place, the Government will work with cruise lines, owners of the Harbour, other stakeholders, local entrepreneurs, taxi drivers and tour operators to make Freeport Harbour and the City itself more attractive to cruise visitors.
Ladies and gentlemen, with Carnival’s long-term investment in Grand Bahama, the negotiated sale of the Grand Lucayan properties progressing, and other projects on the drawing board, my Government’s efforts in establishing an investment framework for long-term economic growth in Grand Bahama are beginning to come to fruition.
We are nearing completion on a number of other initiatives that will bring stability and economic certainty to the lives of Grand Bahama’s residents and will enable its current and potential investors to view Grand Bahama with confidence. Grand Bahama’s future is bright and will indeed deliver much needed economic benefits to its stakeholders and residents, and further enhance our country’s reputation as a premier travel and tourism destination.