By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
A Bahamian entrepreneur yesterday said he is seeking government support to create a new excursion destination that could generate up to 250 jobs and “significant opportunities” for Bahamians.
Tony Knowles, chief executive of Pirate’s Revenge, operator of the pirate-themed ship, the Blackbeard’s Revenge, said he is lobbying the Government for assistance in creating an excursion destination that would complement the ship.
He added that he was working with the previous administration on developing a “Treasure Island” destination for guests, but the COVID-19 pandemic hit shortly after he launched Blackbeard’s Revenge at the end of 2019.
Declining to place a price tag on the investment required, Mr Knowles said: “I won’t say too much about it, but we will create a significant amount of opportunities for Bahamians.
“I have the capital pretty much raised. I have 225 to 250 people ready to work, could be more, but I need that support. I just don’t want to rock the boat so I cannot say too much about it.”
Blackbeard’s Revenge was forced to stop sailing from March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but returned to business in September 2021 when the cruise ships returned to Nassau.
Mr Knowles said: “I reduced operations. I had about 28 people. We have 12 people today, and they are all on part-time salaries. We would like to bring in some more people. But if I were to look into a looking glass and see into the future, I would have never have touched this. It’s with regret that I say this because now I’m stuck with an elephant.”
Blackbeard’s Revenge is currently operating at a loss as it does not have the passengers per voyage to turn a profit, something Mr Knowles hopes will change once more cruise ships start to come into Nassau.
“Disney has been our strongest supporter, but we have gotten nothing from Royal Caribbean. Royal Caribbean would send us 10 or 12 people at a time to pick up, but I’m not sure of their load capacity, so that’s a bit disappointing,” he added:
“Things are very, very slow. Virgin came on and they are doing us well. Carnival Cruise Line is coming and they are starting to produce numbers, but with Royal Caribbean we couldn’t do anything. It’s just too weak.”
Other than the cruise ships, Mr Knowles has been doing private charters, corporate events and birthday parties, but these opportunities are few and far between.