The government of the Bahamas signed a letter of intent on March 22 with Royal Caribbean International and the ITM Group for the purchase of the Grand Lucayan resort and redevelopment of the Freeport Harbour.
The Freeport development will involve the construction of new ship berths at the port which could potentially double capacity.
The deal is being looked on as a signal for an “impending runaround” for Grand Bahama’s beleaguered economy, said the official announcement.
The agreement calls for an initial investment of $195 million, which includes $65m for the purchase of the hotel. The first phase of the development will take place over a 24-month period and will create an estimated 2,000 jobs.
The redevelopment of the harbour is expected to attract an additional two million cruise passengers a year to the island.
It is now more than two-and-a-half years since the Grand Bahama resort sustained severe hurricane damage, forcing the closure of two-thirds of the property which significantly impacted the island’s tourism sector.
At the signing held at the Office of the Prime Minister in Freeport, Minister of State for Grand Bahama Senator Kwasi Thompson noted the resort attracted some 62 expressions of interest from local and global firms, and by February 14, 11 offer letters were received and evaluated by the board of Lucayan Renewal Holdings.
On March 22, the board unanimously approved a resolution to recommend to Cabinet the sale of the 217-acre resort to RCI/ITM.
ITM Group has also developed ports in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Costa Maya.