OCEAN CAY, The Biminis, The Bahamas — Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie said that under its Heads of Agreement negotiated with the Bahamas Government, the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) will invest over $100 million to transform Ocean Cay into a ‘world-class cruise destination.’
“In so doing, MSC will join a distinctive club of cruise liners that own exclusive private islands serving as dedicated cruise destinations,” Prime Minister Christie said, January 16, 2017 during the Official Groundbreaking Ceremony for the MSC Cruise Port on the cay.
The development will have facilities inclusive of a 20-room small hotel, Bahamian shopping village, amphitheatre, restaurants, sporting and entertainment venues, spa, mega-yacht marina & ferry operation and marine reserve in a private port of call, he noted.
“The company will also provide facilities for a police station, Customs and Immigration terminals and complimentary ferry passage to appointed members of law enforcement,” Prime Minister Christie added.
“MSC has made a commitment to Bahamian entrepreneurial development through the offering of financing of construction and equipment in respect of restaurants, retail shops, water sports, entertainment and attractions to be operated by Bahamians.”
Minister Christie said that MSC will also seek to maximize employment for Bahamians in the construction and management of that high-end development; and Ocean Cay, once completed, will have a built environment and commercial activity to support the employment of hundreds of persons drawn from other Bahamian islands, including Bimini.
He pointed out that Bimini was at that time enjoying full employment, as the majority of the hundreds of Bahamians employed there and originating from other islands have taken advantage of the opportunities presented in the construction and operation of Resorts World’s Bimini Bay Resort & Casino.
“MSC has also committed to establishing a Seafarers Technical School in Freeport, and has been working with a Sub-Committee of the Cabinet to facilitate planning, infrastructure development, and screening of candidates, with the first 55 recruits to begin training next month in food and beverage, guest services, deck and engineer ratings and entertainment, for placement on MSC’s cruise ships,” Prime Minister Christie said. An additional 55 recruits per quarter will undergo training for a total of at least 220 graduates by end of 2017, he added.
Prime Minister Christie said that MSC is investing similarly in the education of Bahamian Maritime Trainers at its 1300 square-foot facility in Freeport and has furnished all of the collaterals for the Maritime Train-the-Trainer Programme.
Prime Minister Christie said: “I have no doubt that the cumulative economic impacts of MSC’s increased sailings to Nassau and new itineraries to Ocean Cay — a project that, I am advised, will draw 369,000 passengers annually — will deliver significant, overall economic gains that will bode well for the future of cruise travel to The Bahamas, not only because of the brand reputation and clout of the developer but because we are now living in a time when interest in cruising is at an all-time high; when amenities and onboard experiences are unmatched and when both liner and port activities that promote adventure, educational pursuits and generational travel are driving growth both in our premier industry, tourism, and in the fastest growing sector of that industry: cruising.”