Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Following are remarks by Perry Christie, Prime Minister of The Bahamas, at the Heads of Agreement with Club Mediterranee (Bahamas) Ltd and Sand and Ocean Investments Ltd for resort expansion on San Salvador:
During this same month of October, five hundred and thirty-one years ago, Captain Christopher Columbus and a group of European sailors became the first European visitors to visit The Bahamas, when they first set foot on the historic soil of San Salvador. They were amazed at their discovery, as evidenced in the journal of Christopher Columbus in his famous entry “This land exceeds the beauty of all others even as the splendour of the day surpasses the night”. Coupled with that statement, and indeed even more significant was his apt description of the then Lucayans who peopled this fair land, whom he describes as handsome, gentle, mild mannered and welcoming. With these same characteristics of our land and people still intact some five centuries later, The Bahamas plays host to almost six million visitors annually from around the globe.
It was shortly after our nation’s independence that our visionary first Prime Minister, the late Sir Lynden Pindling, as Chairman of The Hotel Corporation of The Bahamas, entered into discussions with Mr. Albert Trigaro, the French investor and founder of Club Mediterranee about a joint venture for a Club Med Village at San Salvador, on land to be leased by The Hotel Corporation. As the discussions progressed and after lengthy negotiations, the Corporation conveyed its land to Club Med who built the village, which has undergone extensive renovations from time to time.
The partnership between Club Med and the Government of The Bahamas has been constant over the years. One of the largest, if not the largest investment in airport infrastructure in the Family Islands, is the San Salvador airport. It was during my first administration from 2002-2007, when I came to office and found Club Med at San Salvador closed. The airport and its facilities were inadequate to accommodate direct long haul flights from Europe, Canada and the United States, the resort had suffered economic setbacks from hurricane damage and recession, I led my Government in intervening with the airport upgrade, and airlift/marketing support, which not only reopened and turned this property around, but saved and expanded the economy of San Salvador.
Today, I am proud to be here during my second term in Office as Prime Minister to build on this relationship, as we will signal with the execution of Heads of Agreement between my Government and Club Mediteranee and Sand and Ocean Investments Limited as an added partner, a ninety (90) million refurbishment and expansion project at Columbus Isle Village and on adjacent land in San Salvador. In this regard I most warmly welcome Mr. Xavier Mufraggi, CEO of Club Med, and Mr. Jean Marc Daigle, Principal of Sand and Ocean Investments and express my deepest appreciation to them for this vote of confidence in the Government and people of The Bahamas in making this major and strategic investment, which will not only transform the economy of San Salvador but also impact and undoubtedly attract other development and employment in the south-eastern Bahamas. The credentials and operations of Club Med are well known to us, having pioneered the now popular all inclusive resort concept and having at one time operated three Club Med villages on Paradise Island, Eleuthera and San Salvador.
Mr. Jean-Marc Daigle, Principal of Sand and Ocean, has extensive real estate projects in Quebec, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Turks & Caicos, with a concentration in the hospitality industry. Sand and Ocean’s investment partner is Luc Poirier Investment Company, which has an extensive variety of business portfolios, including expertise in real estate,
The refurbishment works of Club Med which will start shorty will include existing guest rooms, buildings, grounds, mechanical plant and the creation of a spa and updating of restaurants.
The expansion phase will consist of construction of 360 new luxury condo-hotel units and staff housing, all of which will be built in phases, to be developed and financed by Sand and Ocean and operated by Club Med.
Additionally Sand and Ocean is planning the construction of a 125 room boutique hotel to be managed by a European luxury resort operator.
All of the above works are to be completed within four years. During construction it is projected that some direct 335 jobs will be made available to qualified Bahamians and a minimum of 250 Bahamians would be employed in resort operations. Many other indirect jobs in both the public and private sectors and entrepreneurial opportunities will be created.
Further upgrades are necessary at the airport including navigational aides, security, terminal expansion, ground handling. We have canvassed local suppliers and fixed base operators to provide a reliable supply of aviation fuel and fixed based operation, to which Oddysey Aviation has responded favourably. They are concluding arrangements to have a reliable supply of fuel installed to meet a deadline of mid-December. The company plans to employ and train several local persons in connection with this service which will serve to attract both international and domestic passenger as well as private flights.
The Government through the Ministry of Tourism will work cooperatively with the developers to promote and support airlift for the benefit of San Salvador as a destination. A determined and focussed effort will be made through the National Training Programme to increase Bahamian employment and to provide a high level of service for the upgraded and expanded resort.
The San Salvador clinic is to be upgraded and serviced by a full time medical doctor to meet the needs of both the community and visitors to the Island. Other social and infrastructural works will are to be improved and will receive the focused and timely attention of the Deputy Prime Minister, your member of Parliament and all relevant Ministers, many of whom are present here today.
Today’s event marks yet another major initiative and advance in my Government’s commitment to the Bahamian people, to expand the economy, create sustainable jobs, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. We are doing this Bimini, in Grand Bahama, in New Providence, in Eleuthera, in Exuma and now in the South-eastern Bahamas in San Salvador. There is more to come in further resort development now being planned and as we implement initiatives to reduce the cost of electricity, modernize infrastructure, improve healthcare, social, education and security services, expand agriculture and fisheries, create new industries and embrace emerging opportunities.
Let us take full advantage of the present and look to the future of San Salvador and the south-eastern Bahamas with confidence.
At the Heads of Agreement signing at Club Med in San Salvador, October 28, 2013, sitting from left: Xavier Mufraggi, Prime Minister Perry Christie, Wendall Major, Cabinet Secretary, Jean Marc Daigle, and Rouschard Martin. Standing: Labour and National Insurance Minister Shane Gibson, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe, Clement Maynard, Sophie Standbrook, Luc Poirier, and Deborah Frazier. (BIS Photo/Peter Ramsay)