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Carnival Awaiting Permits For Gb ‘Crown Jewel’ Start

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

A senior Carnival Corporation executive yesterday voiced optimism that construction on its Grand Bahama “crown jewel” can still start this year despite the pressures imposed by COVID-19.

Giora Israel, the cruise group’s senior vice-president for port and destination development, told Tribune Business that while its cruise port plans may be “delayed slightly” by the pandemic “that’s not a subject of discussion at the moment” as Carnival worked to complete the nearly two-year permitting process.

He added that the cruise line was “standing behind” the initial $100m investment pledged for its Grand Port, and said the figure may ultimately increase as Carnival “adds on what is required” to ensure the venture’s success.

Indicating that Carnival remains committed to the project despite the devastating financial blow dealt by COVID-19, Mr Israel said some 80 percent of land-based construction work will go to Bahamian contractors or sub-contractors although the marine works may go to overseas counterparts.

With environmental and planning related permits still outstanding, even though the process of obtaining them began in March 2019, he told this newspaper: “We hope the permits will be issued soon. We need those permits to start operations. We need quite a few months because we need to issue work notices.

“We started the permitting process in March 2019 and are still not quite there. Some of it had to do with us finishing our work, and we’ve completed everything requested of us by the Government.”

With the permits for the Sharp Rock-based project now in the hands of relevant government agencies, Mr Israel said the port would take 24 months to complete once construction starts. “COVID-19 may put some pressure on how much money we invest and when we start,” he added.

“I’m quite confident we can start operations this year and the permits will be issued shortly. Thereafter we will be able to start construction of the port........ This will be the crown jewel if we get it done in a timely manner. It will be a great port. It will be the first main island port development in The Bahamas; the first time a major port has been developed in a major island. It’s not a private island; it’s a destination port.”

Mr Israel said this would ensure more economic benefits flow to Bahamian entrepreneurs and the local community. He added that 1,000 construction jobs will be created over the 24-month build out, while 1,200 full-time posts will be developed between Carnival, local concession holders and spin-off opportunities.

The Grand Port will be able to accommodate two 6,000-passenger cruise vessels at the same time, with Carnival executives yesterday saying that The Bahamas will be the first Caribbean country to receive cruise vessels when the industry resumes sailing again.

Pointing to significant pent-up demand, and Carnival’s enduring strength despite heavy pandemic-related losses, Mr Israel said the company enjoyed its best and second best reservations days, respectively, when it announced the now-premature sailing resumption for its Mardi Gras and Celebration vessels last year.

Comments

proudloudandfnm 1 month, 2 weeks ago

This Mr. Israel is full of ka ka. No cruise line has the money to start any major products anytime soon. Obviously. What is his game? Is he just dumb? Or a trump like liar???

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Dawes 1 month, 2 weeks ago

They have enough cash for no sailings for 2021. They are sailing in some areas so they do have cash. Whether it would be sensible to hold onto the $100 million is a different matter, however that $100 million is not going to be spent all at once but over the timeframe of the project.

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proudloudandfnm 1 month, 2 weeks ago

They have no money to spend on anything but keeping their ships afloat and crewed while the pandemic rages on. And once we get the all clear they'll need time to recover. I'd say no major projects for any cruise line (except maybe Disney) for 3 to 5 years...

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Proguing 1 month, 2 weeks ago

You need to watch the you tube video...

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tribanon 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Repost:

Giora Israel and Carnival have not been and never will be friends of The Bahamas, period!

In fact, the way our downtown district looks today is mainly attributable to decades of shady deals by the very greedy cruise ship operators involving our corrupt politicians. The deals cut have enabled the cruise line companies like Carnival and Royal Caribbean to pocket for themselves just about every dollar spent by their passengers.

Their very greedy business model will never be conducive to the economic development of The Bahamas and the well-being of the Bahamian people. And you only have to look at the way they have treated their Filipino crew members during the Red China Virus to understand just how ruthless these cruise ship operators are. Words like "sharing" and "fairness" simply do not exist in their business vocabulary and never will.

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