One of the three Nassau cruise port bidders is pledging to drive more passengers off-ship and increase their per capita spending in an effort to boost downtown Nassau businesses.
Emre Sayin, Global Ports Holding’s chief executive, said in a statement that the group’s operation and management of Prince George Wharf will be directly linked to helping Bay Street’s wider transformation should its consortium be awarded the contract by the Minnis administration.
“We recognise the potential of the Nassau cruise port to benefit not only Nassau, but The Bahamas as a whole, boosting the entire economy,” said Mr Sayin. “For us, this project is not just about improving the port, but rather about how improving the port will serve as a catalyst for revitalising the downtown core, rebranding Nassau as a destination, and bringing more people to The Bahamas.
“While the cruise passenger arrival experience and improvements to the facilities are major factors in the success in each of the 15 cruise ports that we currently operate, a big part of our job is also to support the people of each destination that we serve. Currently, cruise lines prefer Nassau due to its proximity to major Florida ports. Our mission is to create a passenger demand-driven port from a convenience port.”
Global Ports Holding, a UK-listed company that operates 15 cruise ports in the Mediterranean and Far East, has partnered with two Bahamian entities - BISX-listed Arawak Port Development Company (APD) and CFAL (formerly Colina Financial Advisors) - to bid on the Request for Proposal (RFP) to manage and upgrade Nassau’s cruise port.
The RFP was itself triggered by the Global Ports Holding consortium’s 49-page “unsolicited proposal” that was submitted to the Government in the summer. That proposal, previously exclusively revealed by Tribune Business, said its plans to transform Nassau’s cruise port would give the economy a $16bn boost spread over 30 years. It added that a $285.7m upgrade of Prince George Wharf through a waterfront entertainment park would inject an extra $216m into the Bahamian economy in the first year alone.
Global Ports Holding’s revised proposal for the formal RFP is understood to involve a base $250m investment. “The Bahamas is one of the most beautiful and interesting places in the world,” Mr Sayin said in his statement.
“We want to help Bahamians to enhance that beauty, benefit from it, and remind the world of it through creativity and innovation. We want to establish a genuine partnership with the people of The Bahamas in this transformative process. The time is now.”
Global Ports Holding promised it will work with the Bahamian business community, especially merchants in the downtown Nassau area, to achieve goals tied to the cruise port’s redevelopment. These include getting more passengers to come off the ships and into Nassau; getting them to spend more money; and driving more hotel visitors and Bahamians downtown to support local businesses there.
A recent economic impact survey on behalf of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) found that cruise passenger spending in Nassau and Freeport soared by 59 percent over the past three years, making The Bahamas the third highest-yielding destination in the Caribbean.
The study attributed the rise to increased luxury goods purchases, with per capita spending rising from $82.83 in 2015 - a low to average sum in comparison to the rest of the Caribbean - to $131.95 just three years later, an almost $50 increase.
“In order for downtown Nassau to become a true city centre, we have to be strategic about its design, flow, function and operation,” added Mr Sayin. “We know that there are local organisations that have plans in the works to help make this happen. We are very interested in partnering with all groups involved in this process, and integrating the port to downtown Nassau.
“This should be a world-class city centre, sharing its unique flavour with the everyone who lives and visits here. The Bahamian people deserve it, and we are the team that can make that happen. We have done it successfully around the world and can do it here, too.”
Global Ports Holding said six of the cruise ports it manages manages have been named as some of the world’s top destinations by Cruise Critic, a leading industry review website. Barcelona, Malaga, Venice, Lisbon, Singapore and Havana were each selected as a ‘top-rated cruise destination’ in the Cruise Critic 2018 Cruiser’s Choice Destination Awards programme. The winning destinations were selected by cruise passengers through the Cruise Critic website.