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DPM: No return to Hotel Corp era

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

The Government's proposed Grand Lucayan rescue does not mark a return to the Hotel Corporation era, the Deputy Prime Minister yesterday reassuring its involvement would "definitely be short-term".

K Peter Turnquest, the Deputy Prime Minister, said the Government's involvement as an equity investor was "a last resort" option should all efforts to re-open and/or sell Freeport's 'anchor' property to a private sector owner prove fruitless.

Mr Turnquest told Tribune Business that the Government was aiming to have the former Memories property re-opened in time for the winter 2018 season.

"We are not looking to bring about a repeat of what happened with the Hotel Corp," he added, acknowledging those concerns. "Any intervention we make is going to be very short-term."

Mr Turnquest's comments indicate that the Minnis administration may be talking to Memories and its parent, Sunwing, on a proposed joint venture that would bring them back to Grand Bahama just over six months after they exited.

It is possible that the Government's investment would finance repairs to Hurricane Matthew-related damage, with Memories then branding, re-opening and operating the hotel as it did previously.

Gowon Bowe, the former Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) chairman, emphasised on Wednesday that the Government must have a clear entry and exit strategy if it decided to acquire the former Memories property, or the rest of the Grand Lucayan, on a temporary basis.

Talk of 'part-nationalisation' will also bring back unhappy memories for many Bahamians of the Hotel Corporation's 'heyday', when the Pindling administration took control over much of the Bahamas' hotel plant.

That period was ended when the Ingraham administration was elected in 1992 and decided to exit the hotel business, realising its seasonality and high operating costs made it an extraordinarily difficult business to be in.

But Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis revealed in his national address on Wednesday night that the Government is negotiating to become temporary joint owners of the Grand Lucayan Resort in a bid to re-open the hotel.

"The Government is now involved in negotiations with the owners of the assets of Grand Lucayan in Grand Bahama, and related assets, for the joint ownership of those assets in partnership with a number of investors," he said.

"As was done by the United States during the 2008 great recession, my government's intent is to resuscitate and grow business to the Grand Lucayan as rapidly and as sustainably as possible, and thereafter sell its equity to one of the existing partners or other investors.

"We have no intention of remaining as an owner in the hotel business for any extended period of time. All signs point to the beginning of renovations at the resort within the next month, with the facility ready for business for the winter season."

Mr Turnquest told Tribune Business that the Government was aiming to re-open the former Memories property by year-end.

He told Rotarians that Grand Bahama had gone experienced some tremendous challenges, adding that the Grand Lucayan was "critically important" to jump-starting the sluggish economy.

He added, though, that there has been an "encouraging level" of investor interest in Grand Bahama.

Comments

The_Oracle 6 years, 11 months ago

Still a damn mistake. The road to hell is paved in good intentions. What will the PLP convert your stake into if returned to power? Are you willing to write off your stake when a buyer is not forthcoming? Or even if they are? Bad business.

TalRussell 6 years, 11 months ago

Comrades! Hell yes The perfect candidate for Chairman of the reincarnated PLP's Bahamaland Hotel Corporation is former DPM Brent? I mean, who would 'KP' turn to for his style of what now must amount to $20 million in 'Audit contracts'- never tendered out? The PLP's need stop complaining about 'KP.' They should make 'KP' a 'Rt. Honourable' card carrying member PLP party.
Amen!

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