By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
OFFICIALS are hoping to soon bring a conclusion to the Grand Lucayan deal, according to Tourism, Investments and Aviation Minister Chester Cooper yesterday.
“We are in the final phase of discussions with RCL in relation to the Our Lucaya matter and until those discussions are concluded, I wouldn’t want to make any further pronouncements on it,” Mr Cooper said when asked for an update on the deal.
In early March 2020, the Minnis administration along with Royal Caribbean International and ITM Group signed an agreement for a $300m investment to transform the Grand Lucayan.
At the time, the move was hailed as a tool to revive Grand Bahama’s beleaguered economy.
However, the sale was stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to then Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.
“I’ve indicated my view publicly as to what I think of the deal itself,” Mr Cooper said further. “RCL is a longstanding partner of The Bahamas. They’ve been here for 50 years. They’ve recently launched new ships and last week, we welcomed a new cruise liner to The Bahamas.
“They have other interests in Grand Bahama and they have other interest in Nassau as well so you know when there is a marriage as long as the one we have with RCL, everyday isn’t going to be Sunday. But suffice to say the issue in Grand Bahama as it relates to Our Lucaya, in the view of this government, has gone on too long and I can tell you we’re close to resolution in relation to that specific matter.”
Pronouncements of a nearly completed deal are not new.
In March, Mr D’Aguilar described the sale of the Grand Lucayan as being on the “cusp” of conclusion, however the sale was never finalised before the Minnis administration was voted out of office in September.
Since being elected to office, Mr Cooper has not shied away from expressing disappointment with the agreement, which he has since called an “egregiously bad” one.
Asked yesterday how confident he was in bringing the matter to a close given the fact that his predecessor had made similar comments while in government, Mr Cooper replied: “I don’t speak for my predecessor. Let me tell you that. I’ve been in office for eight weeks and we’ve begun the discussions in earnest with our partners. My approach to this job is one of collaboration and speaking with the stakeholders.”
“Suffice it to say that RCL knows my position. The position of our government is very clear as it relates to the deal itself. We’ve said it publicly and RCL understands very clearly what the discussion is about.”