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South Florida-to-Bahamas cruises to resume earlier than expected; news comes against backdrop of ongoing Port development

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#TheBahamas, June 19, 2021 – Minister of Tourism and Aviation, the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar, told House Members that he was “delighted to report” that cruises from South Florida to The Bahamas will resume, in many instances, far earlier than anticipated.

This includes cruises from the Port of Miami, the cruise capital of the world. Minister D’Aguilar was making his contribution to the 2021/2022 National Budget Debate in the House of Assembly.

“As you know, Mr. Speaker, the American Center for Disease Control or CDC, has prevented cruises from restarting for some time and, given the CDC’s seemingly disinterest in helping the cruise industry to get back on track, cruise industry executives were telling me a couple of months back that, ‘don’t expect cruises, starting from the United States, to resume until September, possibly November or even just before Christmas.’

“Well, Mr. Speaker, Royal Caribbean has announced that six of its award winning ships will begin sailing from major U.S. cruise ports in Florida and Texas in July and August.”

Minister D’Aguilar said the cruise line’s “comeback” will kick off on July 2 in Miami with the Freedom of the Seas embarking on a special Fourth of July weekend sailing to Perfect Day at Coco Cay in The Bahamas.

“By the end of August, 12 Royal Caribbean ships will be cruising once again across The Bahamas, Caribbean, Alaska and Europe.  In the coming weeks, the cruise line will announce plans to reintroduce its full fleet around the globe by year’s end.”

Minister D’Aguilar said Carnival Cruise Line has announced a similar ‘return to service’ schedule.

“And so, Mr. Speaker, I can confidently announce that the road to resumption of cruises in our region is underway, in fact, it is imminently about to happen so Bay Street and other companies and individuals involved in making a living from cruise passengers can begin, finally, to get ready to restart their livelihoods.”

Mr. D’Aguilar told House Members that, in 2019, a record-breaking 5.4 million cruise passengers visited The Bahamas contributing almost $100 million to the Treasury in Head Tax, while pumping almost $400 million directly into the hands of everyday Bahamians, small and medium-sized businesses, and other businesses.

“With the cruise business just starting to get going again, I want to remind everyone just how economically impactful cruise passengers were for Bahamians since this $400 million in spend typically does not pass through some middleman but, passes directly from the visitor to the Bahamian with an immediate ability to spend, as cash, with no monies owed!,” Minister D’Aguilar said.

Minister D’Aguilar said the news comes amidst the backdrop of the “tremendous work underway at the Nassau Cruise Port.” Located at the Prince George Dock, the Cruise Port is undergoing a much-needed expansion and upgrade with $250 million planned to be spent “to bring about this incredible transformation.” New and expanded berths are currently under construction; an iconic arrivals hall will be built next, followed by a Junkanoo Museum, a Coral Reef attraction and an amphitheatre – all to be used to promote Bahamian culture and emphasize the importance of the environment to the almost 4 million visitors expected to utilize the beautiful new Nassau Cruise Port once it is completed in 2022.

Mr. D’Aguilar said: “This Nassau Cruise Port Project will not cost the Bahamian taxpayer a dime since private sector money will be used to finance its construction and operation.  Only Bahamian citizens will be allowed to own and operate stores/stalls, restaurants and other businesses in the Nassau Port area, not to mention the vastly improved working conditions for taxis, tour buses and other excursion operators.”

The Tourism and Aviation Minister said the fees earned by the government from the Port will increase from approximately $2 million each year to approximately $6 million each year since the government will now receive the VAT on the passenger facility charge paid by each visitor to the Port.

“So, we getting a new and expanded port, it won’t cost the Treasury a dime, the Port will be exclusively available to Bahamian small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, ground transportation and excursion operators will benefit from better working conditions, the port will be managed, as it is right now, by an all-Bahamian team.

“I am extremely optimistic about the redevelopment of the Cruise Port of Nassau and I am convinced it will be a huge success for The Bahamas, ultimately bringing more passengers to Nassau and thereby, positively impacting the lives and livelihoods of scores of Bahamians at-large,” Mr. D’Aguilar added.

By Matt Maura

Release: BIS

Bahamas News

GBPA invests $1.1 million in major road infrastructure improvements for city of Freeport

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#TheBahamas, May 20, 2022 – The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA) will commence its $1.1 million road resurfacing project in Freeport, Grand Bahama on Sunday, May 22, 2022 beginning with the Fishing Hole Road, and West Atlantic and Adventures Way roundabout.

“Our City Maintenance and Management section is excited to begin this important initiative to resurface roadways within Freeport,” said Troy McIntosh, GBPA Deputy Director of Building and Development Services.  “Our city has been through many challenging storm events which did catastrophic damage to infrastructure around the island, including our roads.

“But our community is resilient, and we are seeing a positive shift in the economic tide,” continued McIntosh. “Excitement for future opportunities and anticipation of new investments is palpable through the city, so we knew this was the ideal time to start this aspect of Freeport’s much-needed makeover to which GBPA is fully committed.”

Roadworks are scheduled for main thoroughfares and a number of residential roads.  These areas include the Fishing Hole Road, West Atlantic and Adventures Way roundabout, West Atlantic Drive at Rayvin Mall roundabout, Beach Way Drive, Bahama Reef Boulevard, Pioneers Way, Waterfall Drive, Tarrytown Street and Grand Bahama Highway.  “We selected these locations using our Road Rating System, which allows inspectors to assess the condition and rideability of our roads on an annual basis,” added Mr. McIntosh.

The GBPA roadworks project went out to bid in December 2020.  In March 2022, the bid was awarded to Bahamas Hot Mix (BHM), who specializes in heavy civil engineering projects including major highways.

“We ask motorists to drive with due care and attention while roadwork is underway,” Mr. McIntosh advised.  Flagmen and temporary traffic lights will be in position to direct traffic.  Please obey the speed limit and posted signs to help ensure the safety of all motorists and crews as they conduct work.  Delays are expected as there will be partial lane closures in some areas.”

The initial phase of road resurfacing is scheduled to be completed at the end of June 2022.  For the latest updates and information on redirected travel routes, residents can follow any of the Grand Bahama Port Authority’s social media sites or visit its website at www.gbpa.com.

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Freaky Weather includes Waterspouts, Severe Flooding and fish in Backyards

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By Dana Malcolm & Deandrea Hamilton

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, May 19, 2022 – A waterspout whirling its way onto shore in the west, images of submerged cars, impassable roads and even fish darting around in a flooded backyard were the testimony of Nassau’s extreme weather weekend.

The Bahamas Department of meteorology had predicted severe weather from Friday midday to Saturday warning of, “GUSTY WINDS, DANGEROUS LIGHTNING, HEAVY DOWNPOURS, HAIL AND POSSIBLE WATERSPOUT OR TORNADIC ACTIVITY and possibly LOCALIZED FLOODING.”

Reports of hail, the freakish funnel cloud, downpour flooded streets, submerged cars and stranded workers trying to get home made for a shocking weekend.

There were dramatic videos of the forecast, waterspouts, which made an appearance near seaside restaurants Sapodilla Bay and Traveller’s Rest.  The ‘water tornado’ slashing against parked cars, producing whipping winds and tossing water into the restaurant elicited screams and frantic activity as residents could be heard rushing to safety.

The storm is unseasonably early with the official start to the hurricane season still two weeks away; but it maintains a trend for severe weather consistently appearing well ahead of the official June 1 start.

On Tuesday waterspouts erupted in the bay off Harbour Island, Eleuthera, also in The Bahamas as the country was inundated this week with SEVERE WEATHER ALERTS issued by The Bahamas Department of Meteorology.

The latest forecast as weekend approaches is there will be more of the same.

“EXTENDED FORECAST (FOR THE NEXT TWO DAYS): A TROPICAL WAVE, SKIRTING THE

SOUTHERN PERIPHERY OF THE BAHAMAS, WILL PROGRESSIVELY MOVE WESTWARDS AND

INFLUENCE AN INFLUX OF MOISTURE NORTHWESTWARDS OVER THE BAHAMAS, KEEPING

RAIN CHANCES IN THE FORECAST INTO SATURDAY.”

The first tropical wave of 2022 has been identified but a pre-season storm is not yet expected. There have been pre-season tropical storms for the past seven years in a row according to WWLTV and the season is expected to be more severe than usual.

“An above-average season with major hurricane landfalls in the U.S.and in the Caribbean is unfortunately likely. Accuweather experts predict.

“16-20 named storms and six to eight hurricanes. Of those hurricanes, about three to five are forecast to reach major hurricane status.”

Boaters and swimmers in the two archipelagos – The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands – were warned to be cautious as well, “BOATERS SHOULD REMAIN VIGILANT DUE TO THE THREAT OF POSSIBLE WATERSPOUT ACTIVITY. BEACHGOERS SHOULD EXERCISE CAUTION DUE TO THE RISK OF RIP CURRENTS,” the Meteorology Department said.

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Government, fulfilling commitment to provide housing for Bahamians

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By: Kathryn Campbell

Bahamas Information Services

 

 

#TheBahamas, May 18, 2022 – The Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, has underscored the government’s commitment to “strengthening” and “deepening” its “unmatched” legacy of providing access to decent, affordable housing to Bahamians.

“My government is acutely aware of the current housing shortage in The Bahamas and the backlog of housing applications at the Mortgage Corporation of The Bahamas (BMC),” said Prime Minister Davis.

“Our BMC Executive Chair, Barbara Cartwright, is committed to expediting those applications and assigning without delay, suitably qualified housing applicants.

“I believe the number of applications at BMC in just the last eight months is in excess of 3,500. This housing demand suggests that we move with urgency and dispatch.”

In this vein, the government, Monday, along with stakeholders, unveiled The Renaissance at Carmichael, a housing sub-division on 70 acres of crown land off Carmichael Road in Western New Providence.

Executives of the government and public-private partnerships (PPP) participated in a ceremonial signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, May 16, 2022 at the Office of the Prime Minister, which will allow Bahamian families the ability to open the doors to 200 new homes.

The subdivision is being funded by a PPP arrangement between the Government, a $20 million backing from PROVEN Wealth Ltd. through Simplified Lending, the Mortgage Corporation of the Bahamas and financiers.

Dignitaries in attendance: the Hon. Jobeth Coleby-Davis, Minister of Transport and Housing; the Hon. Vaughn Miller, Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources; the Hon. Pia Glover-Rolle, Minister of State for the Public Service; Leroy Major, Executive Chairman, Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation; Nicole Campbell, Secretary to the Cabinet; David Davis and Antoinette Thompson, Permanent Secretaries; Barbara Cartwright, Chairman, Bahamas Mortgage Corporation; Oral Lafleur, Acting Chief Housing Officer; and Thomas Ferguson, Acting Director of Housing. Representatives of private sector partners: Robert Pantry, Founder and CEO, Simplified Lending; Johann Heaven, President and CEO, PROVEN Wealth Limited.

Prime Minister Davis assured that as the economy fully opens and grows, the government expects to expand PPPs in other areas of national economy including public infrastructure providing investments, ownership and job opportunities for Bahamians.

Minister Coleby-Davis said the initiative will set a new standard in affordable housing by which other housing developments will be measured.

She described today’s signing is an “historic” milestone which can be attributed to the commitment of the government to bring to fruition a concept from an idea to reality.

“With this project we intend to create an estate where a sense of community thrives. There will be lit streets, sidewalks; a park where children can play safely and family gatherings can take place. Neighbors will be able to come together and interact as our families were able to do many years ago.

Formerly known as Carmichael Village Sub-division, the community will comprise 104 single family, two and three-bedroom residences, and eight two-storey condominium buildings with 12 units each.

In a video presentation Minister Coleby-Davis said, “Thanks to Simplified Lending, a Bahamian company which secured funding through a leading regional finance company called PROVEN. Many who only dreamed of home ownership will be able to walk through the front door to their new lives in less than one year.”

She informed that homes will be built to the highest quality with steel frame construction, storm-rated windows and doors, attractive facades and strong concrete foundations raised three feet above road level.

“Thanks to careful design, planning and exemptions on certain building supplies, every home will remain in the affordable price range opening doors to home ownership starting at $130,000,” she said.

Mr. Heaven said, “This transaction today will be primarily funded through the Bahamian portion of our Heritage education fund which is a regional education savings plan that is over 30 years old and is a household name for saving for your children’s tertiary education.”

The government broke ground for Pinecrest Sub-Division, a 43-lot community in Southern New Providence in January of this year.

 

Release: BIS

BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna

Header: From left: Antoinette Thompson, Permanent Secretary; the Hon. Jobeth Coleby-Davis, Minister of Transport and Housing; Nicole Campbell, Secretary to the Cabinet and the Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

1st insert: The Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, is pictured speaking at the signing of Memorandum of Understanding for The Renaissance at Carmichael, a new sub-division in western New Providence.

2nd insert: The Hon. Jobeth Coleby-Davis, Minister of Transport and Housing and Johann Heaven, President and CEO, PROVEN Wealth Ltd., after ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.

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