Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
DAYS after Carnival Corporation announced it will double its investment at the Grand Bahama cruise port, Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday the move will aid the recovery efforts on the storm-impacted island.
“We’re certainly looking very much looking forward to the investment in that port as it will help with the turn around and the rebuilding process in Grand Bahama. As you know, we’ve had a significant catastrophic loss of investment in Grand Bahama,” he told reporters outside Cabinet yesterday.
“This boost will help to bring confidence back to the residents of the island and to investors that Grand Bahama is open for business (and) that it is a place that is progressing and a good place to live and to earn a living as well as to create economic opportunities.”
The new Carnival project, now worth at least $200m, will be built on 329 acres and will be capable of docking two of Carnival’s largest vessels at once––its Mardi Gras brand of ships which are currently under construction.
It was originally valued at $100m when Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis hosted the heads of agreement signing for the project last September. Despite having doubled the investment since then, officials said it may further increase by the time the details are finalised.
Noting that the move will allow for the creation of more jobs on the island, Mr Turnquest told reporters that it would also boost the country’s economy.
“We expect that this investment will not only bring direct jobs, but it will also bring spin off business opportunities for Grand Bahamians and so that along with the hotel along with the redevelopment of the airport is going to be a tremendous stimulus to Grand Bahama and to the overall economy of the Bahamas,” he added.
According to vice-president of development and operations, David Candib, construction is scheduled to begin in the early summer. He said up to 1,000 locals will be employed during the construction phase and between 500 and 1,000 will be employed during operations.
Christine Duffy, the president of Carnival Cruise Line, the subsidiary company that will use Grand Bahama’s new port the most, said the company’s commitment to the island never wavered despite Hurricane Dorian’s impact.
“We see it as a partnership that is important and we want to be there no matter what,” she told reporters last week.
“Hurricanes aren’t new. Obviously this one was devastating for the Bahamas which for us meant even more quickly what could we do to provide support first and foremost to the people of Grand Bahama and making sure we are able to bring supplies and food and whatever was needed by ship as quickly as we needed so we never once questioned amongst ourselves that we wouldn’t continue with the project.”
The corporation is also planning a $100 million investment to build a new and bigger dock at the Grand Bahama shipyard. Shipyard officials hope to meet government representatives within the next few weeks to discuss plans for expanding the shipyard.