Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar.
By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
TOURISM Minister Dionisio D'Aguilar yesterday said the government considering a public-private-partnership for the day-to-day management of the Prince George Wharf as it eyes the overall improvement of the country's top cruise port.
Responding to questions over reported privatisation of Festival Place, Mr D'Aguilar suggested a Tribune article which detailed a leaked vendor memo discussing the move, was only part of the wider discussion of the privatisation of the entire port.
The memo indicated the privatization of Festival Place is expected to be completed by next month.
Among the litany of topics being addressed and finalised in the document are the final approvals for lease agreements, the appointment of a director for the terminal and efforts to improve the overall look of the property.
However, in addressing the document's claims yesterday, the Tourism minister explained the government was looking to place the entire cruise port in a "silo" focused primarily on the overall upgrade and upkeep of the site.
"So (we) would like to take it out of the hands of the day to day running of the port from the government and put it in the hands of or put it in a silo that has focused and purpose to upgrade the port," he said.
Mr D'Aguilar said: "And the port, given that there are 91 cruise ships under construction now, given the fact that many of the ports that were damaged by the hurricane are upgrading their ports, it behooves us as the number one cruise port in the country to invest in it, to upgrade it and to ensure that protect the interest of the Bahamian operators and vendors down there and to cause and bring about an improvement and increase in the number of passengers coming through that port and to improve the experience that they have."
"That is what we are attempting to do," he said, "obliviously we are looking to enter into a public-private-partnership, the structure of which we are not one hundred percent, we haven't made that decision yet."
Mr D'Aguilar said once that is done, the Minnis administration will formally issue a formal request for proposal.
"Festival is a part of the port, that is why I don't understand why someone is compartmentalising that little section of it.
"We are talking about the port, the cruise port itself and not just the building Festival Place."
This comes as a Bahamian investor group continues its push to make its "re-imagination" of Nassau's cruise port and downtown a reality.
In a Tribune Business report last week, Gerald Strachan, founder, president and chief executive of Culture Village (Bahamas), in a statement said his group's proposal for reviving both Prince George Wharf and the surrounding Downtown area would focus on development consistent with this country's heritage.
His comments came in response to reports that the government plan to put Prince George Wharf's management out to bid through a public tendering process might result in any request for proposal (RFP) seeking to copy Culture Village (Bahamas) ideas by mandating that all offers have a similar "Bahamianisation" flavour.
There has been no firm indication by the government publicly on whether it has selected a management company to date.