By NATARIO McKENZIE
THE redevelopment of Nassau's cruise port will provide deliver greater value that increases spending by cruise passengers, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce's chairman said yesterday.
Michael Maura, who is also Arawak Port Development Company's (APD) chief executive, said that with several prominent cruise destinations in the eastern Caribbean having been impacted by hurricanes last year, the Bahamas has been presented with an opportunity.
"The cruise ships will have to find a place to visit, and we have an opportunity to capitalise on that. A year or two out those same ports will have a facelift, so we have to ensure that we are improving Prince George Wharf so that when our competitors get a facelift we will remain competitive," he said.
As reported by Tribune Business late last year, the world's largest cruise port operator, UK-based Global Ports Holding, is in talks with the Government to take over management and operations at downtown Nassau's Prince George Wharf.
BISX-listed Arawak Port Development Company (APD) is its potential joint venture partner. The two companies planned to add "additional berths and facilities" to the Bahamas' busiest cruise port if they receive the go-ahead from government. "There is a need to redevelop Prince George Wharf but, at the same time, you have over 90 cruise ships coming out of shipyards over the next four to five years, and over a third of them will be earmarked for the Caribbean," Mr Maura said. "The fact is ships are getting bigger. What we are looking at is expanding Prince George Wharf to be able to handle the larger ships. By redeveloping the property itself we can add greater value to our guests, the cruise passengers, which will get them to dig into their pockets and spend more money. "If we can create interest and value around our cruise industry - excursions getting larger ships, not 30 of the same jewellery stores and 20 of the same t-shirt stores, but creating additional experiences. We are very interested in that. APD is a very successful cargo operator, and we want to expand and grow, and getting into the cruise business is an opportunity for us."