By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE FINAL decision on an operator to take over the Grand Lucayan’s casino from Treasure Bay could be taken in two weeks, the Tourism Minister said yesterday, telling Tribune Business the Government was looking to have a replacement in place by end-June.
“The casino operator search is going well,” he said. “We have additional interests, a lot of interests in fact, so we are looking at all, but we are very near a decision, I think.
“We are waiting for the recommendation to come from our expert. We think we could have a final decision in another two weeks. We want the new operator to be in place by the end of June.”
Treasure Bay has operated the casino, which employs about 200 staff, since 2009.
Mr Wilchcombe said: “In addition to that the bids are out for the construction work to begin on the Reef, so hopefully they would be in within a week or so and the work would begin to get that property ready for opening later this year.
“In the meantime we have been talking to a number of groups about new business to Grand Bahama, trying to ensure that we have not only the business from Canada but more business from America as well.
“We are not talking about a band-aid approach. We are trying to make sure we have not only a good operator for the casino but a trendy operator that could bring some life into that part of Grand Bahama again. Of course there is new interest for some of the other hotels in Grand Bahama as well.”
Prime Minister Perry Christie confirmed in Parliament back in February that the deal to renovate the Reef Village at the Grand Lucayan had been finalised.
Mr Christie said the agreement between the Government, Hutchinson Wampoa and Sunwing Travel Group was signed to convert the 400-room Reef Village into a five=star Blue Diamond Resort. The development is expected to create around 250-300 construction jobs and as many as 1,000 permanent jobs.