FREEPORT, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation, the Hon. Chester Cooper says that apart from the redevelopment of the Grand Bahama International Airport and the pending sale of the Grand Lucayan, there will be close to $1 billion in investments coming out of the pipeline for Grand Bahama.
Minister Cooper updated attendees at the 24th annual Grand Bahama Business Outlook, held on Monday, March 16, 2023 at the Grand Lucayan.
“I am convinced that Grand Bahama already has all of the attributes for growth – the infrastructure, the harbor, the industrial sector, the coming airport, the container port, the potential for an air cargo hub, the maritime capabilities and logistics of the island, all create an ecosystem for both business and leisure travel,” said Minister Cooper.
“This administration is deeply committed to Grand Bahama.”
Among the expected billion dollars in investments will be a unique resort. Minister Cooper announced the upcoming Eden Hotels and Resorts project, by a Bahamian registered company, whose principals are based in the United States, with extensive experience in commercial real estate.
“Eden is a $300 million project to develop an eco-resort community and sustainable farm for aquaculture and agriculture production on 93 acres of waterfront in West Grand Bahama,” explained Mr. Cooper.
“Eden is already in the process of purchasing the 93-acre waterfront property in the West End. The principals of the company have been operating a sustainable aquaculture research program with the University of Rhode Island in a public-private partnership called ‘Greenfins.’
“The University of Rhode Island is one of the leading marine research institutions with world renowned aquaculture, marine sciences and oceanography programs.”
According to the Deputy Prime Minister, Eden’s three main development priorities are to develop and operate:
· An Eco-Resort with hotel and villas.
· A Sustainable Farm (aquaculture primarily with some agriculture) to serve the resort, domestic markets and export to the USA.
· A Marina to support the aquaculture operations, as well as recreational activities and transient boaters.
“The Eden development will be an eco-resort community and destination that adheres to these ESG principals across all of its operations – from hospitality to food security and production,” added Minister Cooper. “Consumers are demanding smarter, more environmentally responsible options to live, work, visit and play, and the Eden Resort is ideally suited to address this growing market need.
“This resort is expected to break ground in the fourth quarter of this year.”
Minister Cooper said that the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism is working on the tourism ecosystem to cause a paradigm shift. He noted that Grand Bahama tourism has often been based on the presence of incentives to sustain business. However, he said any incentive plan enabling a ‘pay to play’ approach is a ‘hostage game’ that is not sustainable, and one which the Bahamas, Grand Bahama in particular, cannot win.
“I am persuaded that the product is sufficiently robust to have a change in mindset, create sustainable tourism and build a healthy Grand Bahama tourism industry,” said Mr. Cooper.
“We will leverage the massive increase in airlift and promote a strategy of stay only. This will enhance our business model for value-creation. This will support the hotel sector, including the success of the Grand Lucayan Resort. We will encourage the creation and promotion of small boutique resorts across the island and encourage Bahamian ownership.
“In this new post-pandemic era, we can ill-afford to do the same thing as we have always done, in particular as it relates to Grand Bahama. More of the same cannot work for Grand Bahama. We have to seek a balanced approach to driving growth whilst we transition to bring the new.
“This will take courage to make the hard decisions necessary and that is what we have”.
Minister Cooper called the Grand Bahama product “strong”, noting that the island is a very special gem in The Bahamas’ crown of 16-island destinations. He said the government is immensely proud of the distinctive tourism product that Grand Bahama offers, noting that the island boasts a singularly unique tourism product — a product whose major selling point is its diversity.
Such diversity, he said, makes Grand Bahama a destination that is ideal for all vacation preferences, and ideal for all demographics — the family, couples and solo travelers.
“Most importantly, Grand Bahama’s diverse tourism product ensures that it delivers high value for money spent by our visitors,” said Minister Cooper.
“But what I urge you to do is to prepare for what’s coming.
“Seek out the Tourism Development Corporation to foster new businesses and attractions so that you can earn and grow and draw your family that might have looked for work elsewhere back home.
“I continue to be optimistic about the future of Grand Bahama and look forward to many of these projects coming out of the ground and taking shape.”