By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
BAHA Mar’s delayed full opening means the government will likely miss its revenue targets for the year, opposition Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest said yesterday.
Robert Sands, Baha Mar’s senior vice-president of government and external affairs, confirmed to The Tribune last week that the Baha Mar casino and hotel, resort core amenities, entertainment and recreation areas will open up this Friday.
However, while the public spaces at the mega resort’s three other hotels – SLS LUX, Rosewood and Grand Hyatt – will also open, the hotel rooms at these properties will “come online shortly after.”
Additional areas will open up during the resort’s grand opening celebration in May, he said.
When asked for his reaction yesterday, Mr Turnquest said: “The government’s revenue targets depend heavily on taxes from Baha Mar. With this delay, we’ve already lost the first quarter and we are potentially going to lose the remaining six months and it means the government is likely to miss its targets for the fiscal year 2014/2015. I expect that they are actively adjusting their spending patterns to ensure they don’t blow the budget too bad.”
He added: “We certainly all hoped that Baha Mar would have opened in full. Because many, including internal and external stakeholders, are depending on it to signal the turn around for the Bahamas, both in terms of the tax revenue it’s likely to generate as well as employment. We are hopeful that it will provide for many Bahamians in need of employment, particularly among the younger population.”
The Free National Movement MP said the news is “somewhat disappointing”, but added that it is better for the property to delay a full opening than to do so before it is ready.
“We are mindful that it would be better for it to be properly opened with a good showing, with the infrastructure in place so that the launch of the property is successful and not marred with construction activity and lack of available infrastructure.”
The significance of the Baha Mar delay reflects the need to diversify the economy, he said.
“It shows that our country’s dependency on tourism as a primary source of revenue needs to be diversified. While tourism still has tremendous potential, it all shows we have to diversify into more than just a room and bed destination. We need to find additional ways to secure income from this type of activity.”
Baha Mar was initially expected to open last December but that date was delayed.
In January, the resort said it would open its doors to paying customers in March.
According to a statement from the property at the time, it was expected that the Baha Mar Casino & Hotel, the Rosewood at Baha Mar, and SLS Lux at Baha Mar would start hosting “paid guests” on March 27.
That earlier statement said the Grand Hyatt would open “shortly thereafter.”