Monday, June 6, 2016
Monday, June 6, 2016
Read the remarks made by Prime Minister Perry Christie at the official ribbon cutting ceremony for Resorts World Bimini Hilton Hotel, 4 June, 2016.
I am happy to be in Bimini on this momentous occasion to join the visionary developers, the competent managers and staff of Resorts World Bimini Bahamas Limited, and the good people of Bimini in the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony celebrating the official opening of the very tastefully designed and well constructed, new 300 room, five star Hilton-branded hotel by Resorts World Bimini.
Genting Resorts World and RAV Bahamas have proven to be invaluable development partners and investors in the Family Islands, where the development paradigm is that much more challenging than in New Providence or Grand Bahama Island. Resorts World has used its considerable clout to attract the premier global Hilton brand to the destination, supplemented by its uniquely designed world class casino, which is already attracting a mix of regular and high end customers. This superb new hotel will offer a world class spa and meeting facilities and other wonderful amenities with breath-taking views, surrounded by attractive villas and the largest marina in The Bahamas and with the advantage of close proximity to South Florida.
It was just three years ago that the Government was negotiating plans for a $150 million resort project with The Genting/ Resorts World Group. For those unfamiliar with the Resorts World brand, it is one of the international leisure brands of the Genting Group, the multi-billion dollar conglomerate based in Southeast Asia with over $15 billion in leisure and hospitality assets operating under the direction of Chairman and Chief Executive Tan Sri Lim. Genting has partnerships with leading global brands such as Hard Rock, Universal Studios, Maxims, Star Cruises and Norweigan Cruise Lines which is also expanding its footprint in The Bahamas at Great Stirrup Cay in the Berry Islands and adding new luxury cruise ships on calls at Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay.
Resorts World Bimini Limited, in conjunction with its partners, RAV Bahamas Limited, BB Investment Holdings Limited and BB Entertainment Limited, initially settled on construction of a 300-room hotel as part of a
Masterplan for development of the Island of Bimini; a Masterplan encompassing public private investment in infrastructure development and air, sea and ground transportation coupled with entertainment products and attractions to stimulate entrepreneurial activity and job creation for residents. The result has been the transformation of Bimini’s tourism sector from a seasonal to a year round destination.
Resorts World’s investments in Bimini’s infrastructure have included a $12 million investment in North Bimini’s airport expansion, lengthening of the runway, upgrade of the terminal and flight facilities, construction of a deep-water jetty and water taxi terminal, construction of over 400 employee housing units, paving of the King’s Highway, improvements to local attractions and investment in various economic, social and educational community projects in Bimini.
I am advised that more than 33 new businesses have been established in Bimini since the introduction of Resorts World to the Island and that the Bimini Chamber of Commerce was recently formed to assist residents to take advantage of the opportunities ahead.
The Government’s decision to drive infrastructural development and investment in Bimini was a logical step in light of its mandate to grow The Bahamas’ market share in
Tourism. Bimini’s proximity to the United States was the ideal catalyst for realization of increased traffic between Florida and The Bahamas, particularly in the dedicated markets of sailing, fishing and boating and gaming, sought after by high net worth travellers from the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia.
I am also pleased to say that recent refurbishments of the Bimini Big Game, Bimini Sands and other properties in North and South Bimini have contributed significantly to Bimini’s overall attraction and appeal to visitors. Along with the Bimini Hilton’s soft opening last year, these initiatives have catapulted Bimini from 7th place to 2nd behind Abaco in terms of overall visitor arrivals to Family Island destinations.
The opening of Resorts World Bimini Hilton and ongoing infrastructural developments are certain to spark an additional uptick in consumer demand for Bimini and will serve to bolster the Island’s capacity to absorb increased air and sea arrivals and generate new business to the Bahamas.
Shortly after signing their initial Agreement with the Government in 2013, Resorts World revised its plans, greatly expanding its vision for the development and operation of the project, and creating what is undisputedly one of the premier luxury resorts in the Caribbean, with leading occupancies projected to 75% over the next year. This could not have happened without the quality and dedication of the management and staff of the Bimini Hilton and the confidence of these investors in their potential.
Since 2013 the developers have injected $660 million in capital and operating cash flow into the development. It’s employee count rose from 158 in February 2013 to 657 in May 2016 and is expected to stabilize at 720 employees over the next 12 months as the developer carries out further capital investment.
In the area of transportation to service Bimini from the United States and to connect with the rest of the world, the Resorts World Bimini Team have introduced daily, non-stop commercial air service via from the United States with flights to Bimini by Cape Air and Silver Airways, code sharing with major US carriers, including Jet Blue and American Airlines. Additionally, five (5) luxury private aircraft service high rollers visiting the resort. There is now capacity to transport 500 people
daily over Miami and Ft. Lauderdale with seamless transfer of baggage to the Resort on airline check-in.
The company is committed to the provision of fast and efficient ferry service for guests and will soon launch an improved ferry service from PortMiami utilizing the new jetty constructed by Resorts World on Bimini.
Having celebrated Labour Day yesterday, it is appropriate that I should make some remarks.
With respect to the staff of this magnificent property, I must applaud each and every one of you today for your continuing role in aiming to deliver levels of service reflective of only the highest international standards. Your contributions have increased Bimini’s stature as a travel destination, but there remains much work to be done to meet the national challenge of improving productivity levels in order to compete successfully with both regional and international competition.
It is significant that Resorts World, which promotes continuous employee training at every level, has the kind of corporate culture that is routinely sought after by discerning countries globally, which are placing increased emphasis on these kinds of initiatives to improve national skill sets and maintain desired levels of competiveness. The operator’s commitment to training of staff in all areas and
at all levels will ensure that each of you has an opportunity to succeed solely on the basis of merit. In this regard we are pleased that the management at Resorts World Bimini is working closely with the Government’s National Training Programme to enhance both employment opportunities and levels of service.
Resorts World’s global entities have gone beyond localized technical skills and on-the-job training to the provision of managerial and apprenticeship programmes at premier Resorts World properties world-wide for employees, and for the management and staff here at the Bimini Hilton, this will provide precisely the kind of opportunities for international exposure that is critical to employee development and financial success.
The official opening of the Bimini Hilton Hotel is sandwiched between Labour Day and an important Constitutional Referendum being held next Tuesday. The Referendum is designed to entrench within the Constitution and the law the end of discrimination on the basis of gender, and to ensure that men and women have equal rights. The Referendum will also ensure that all Bahamians have the right to pass citizenship to their family members in the same way, and Parliament will be prevented from creating any new laws that discriminate against men or women. The successful outcome of the Referendum is dependent upon a majority of the electorate voting YES to all four amendments to the Constitution which specifically provide as follows:
Amendment 1 gives Bahamian women the same right as Bahamian men to pass citizenship to their child born abroad when the other parent is not Bahamian.
Amendment 2 gives Bahamian women the same right as Bahamian men to have their spouse apply for Bahamian citizenship after 10 years of residing together.
Amendment 3 gives Bahamian men the same rights as Bahamian women to pass citizenship to their children born out of wedlock, if they can prove paternity through DNA evidence.
Amendment 4 prevents Parliament from passing any new laws that discriminate against either men or women, so that our sons and daughters are considered equal under the law.
I take this opportunity of urging all citizens regardless of political or religious persuasion, to vote YES to all four amendments, in the interest of deepening our traditional democracy, ensuring equal rights for all, strengthening of families and the realization of our full potential as a progressive nation through the exercise of our God-given rights.
In conclusion, I wish to applaud Genting’s foray into investment in The Bahamas which has been a game changer for the Island of Bimini. I would like to thank its Chairman Tan Sri Lim, his partner Mr. Gerardo Capo of RAV Bahamas Limited and the entire management team for their vision and commitment to the further economic growth and development of Bimini. You have manifested great confidence in the Government and the people of The Bahamas. I congratulate you on the occasion of the opening of this splendid new luxury hotel with its varied amenities, and pledge the continued support and cooperation of my Government.