It’s the sentiment of many businessmen and women on that island with budding concerns about a new terminal, specifically its revenue centers. Their worries are based on that talked-about, all-inclusive platform and the possibility it could have a negative impact on local businesses outside of its designated shopping and entertainment centers. That could see the island’s new terminal modeled in the format of Carnival’s other cruise centers. In Turks and Caicos, for example, passengers debark to a community of shops and stores that are owned by the cruise ship giant.
There’s some concern that effectively shuts out local vendors from the already limited spending of cruise passengers.
Several months ago, the prime minister indicated that Grand Bahama’s new terminal will be funded by Carnival Cruise Lines in conjunction with the government.
During an address in the House of Assembly, Ingraham named Williams Town as the designated site for the proposed $100 million port and said the government is looking for a strategic partner to build it. His comments came after Carnival Cruiseline executive Giora Israel’s announcement that Carnival Cruiseline would be happy to make whatever investment is needed to get the cruise port off the ground.
Even if Carnival were to own most if not all of the Freeport facility’s shops and other revenue centers, assert proponents, the project would still provide jobs for many. That might result in a migration of workers, but the fate of the businesses they now work for is in question.
Hadley Forbes, owner of H. Forbes Charter Services Ltd., is not concerned. Drawing on past cruise experiences, he points to a natural curiosity that will drive passengers beyond the gates of the terminal and onto the streets of Grand Bahama to discover the destination for themselves.
He does, however, have concerns over the selection process of workers to operate the terminal.
“Before Carnival puts the port there, it must be understood by all parties that those Bahamians that are qualified and have the means to put in and run a shop must be given first preference,” Forbes told Guardian Business yesterday. “Unless that is done, it will be meaningless to run a cruise terminal.”
It remains unclear at this time if shops in the new terminal will be fully owned by Carnival or if spaces will be made available for Bahamians to lease out of the complex. Guardian Business queries were not answered Thursday.