EDITOR, The Tribune.
I applaud Terry Gape’s letter to the Editor in Thursday’s Freeport News. So many valid points about ‘the forgotten island’ of Grand Bahama.
The popular view is that extension of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement will be approved by the government.
Frankly, what other choice do they have although there are valid arguments that taxing foreign owned land might stimulate development.
Given the dire state of Grand Bahama’s economy, removing any form of existing concessions would only be another nail in the coffin.
With school graduations upon us, another wave of young people will be turned loose to join the swollen ranks of the unprecedented numbers of unemployed in Grand Bahama.
Hutchinson can’t wait to unload their loss-making hotel properties and one has to wonder who would consider making the purchase given such a horrendous track record of losing millions for so many years.
While Hutchinson may finally admit they are not capable resort operators in this part of the world, who will take on the challenge to turn it around? We will know shortly. Whoever it is will have to have some very deep pockets.
Apart from major renovations required at the Grand Lucayan of dozens of rooms to make them sellable, substantial new airlift will be needed to fill them and the other neighboring properties.
Three flights a day on American Eagle’s small jets and Silver Airways ‘puddle jumpers’ will not do it. We will need jumbo jets.
Thus the new owners would probably have to be a major hotel name brand, preferably with casino connections and a very large client base.
They will also need a spare million or two to market their new acquisition.
Even if this proves to be a good result - what of the further development of Grand Bahama - do we stop there?
As Mr Gape observed, the entire Barbary Beach area is prime property waiting for a multi resort development. Let’s not forget West End, equally poised for similar reasons. While multimillion dollar resorts are under development in Exuma, Abaco and other Family Islands, we seem unable to give Grand Bahama away – for years. Perhaps that is the answer - give the land away to major investors. Whatever it takes, the GBPA and Hutchinson need to start thinking out side of the box. Nothing has worked for over fifteen years.
My fear, however, is that Hutchinson will now have another 20 years’ ‘free ride’ on their land bank of undeveloped property with the HCA extension. Having sold the hotels, they have no reason do anything else with the exception of the Container Port expansion - where the money is.
Regrettably, the Chinese are for the most part on the ‘300-year plan: So is Grand Bahama going to be swept along on a tide of nothingness for decades to come? As they say on movie sets “hurry up and wait”.
May 6, 2016.