The OBA on Southampton Princess negotiation represents the heigh of hypocrisy Say MP Zane Desilva

For the same OBA that concealed the $165 million Morgan’s Point Guarantee and the $100 million spent on America’s Cup until the last possible moment to now run their mouths on this issue is hypocritical at best and disingenuous at worst.

First the facts. No guarantee has been finalised to Gencom to facilitate the Southampton Princess construction and reopening at this time. Negotiations are ongoing but as a country, we will have to face reality and will have to make some tough choices.

Bermuda is an expensive place to do business and we lag behind our competitors when it comes to the incentives available to entice investors to our shores. While we have made big moves to improve our competitiveness as a jurisdiction, as the Premier mentioned during the budget statement, we will be doing more in short order. Not just to the benefit of Gencom and the Southampton Princess project, but for future projects that will also benefit our people.

For this project to start and for the hundreds of hospitality jobs to return to our economy, we will have to make the environment here as conducive as possible for the developers to succeed. Not for the developers, but for Bermuda.

As a former Minister of Tourism, I understand the importance of the Southampton Princess to our economy, our airlift, and in terms of restoring hundreds of tourism jobs for Bermudians. I remember all of the Bermudians that worked at every level at that property and how hard it was to watch them lose their jobs when the hotel closed. It is because of them that we simply cannot allow that property to remain closed and must responsibly do whatever we can to help this project succeed.

The biggest difference between supporting this project, and previous OBA failed projects is in the impeccable reputation of Gencom and their record of success in hotel development, not just around the world but right here at home as well. They have already poured millions into Tucker’s Point making it a jewel in our island’s tourism product and creating another reason for sophisticated, discerning travelers to pick Bermuda over our competition.

Their commitment and success speak for themselves. Whatever is decided at the conclusion of negotiations will be shaped by the proven track record of Gencom.
Unlike the OBA, this PLP government under the leadership of our Premier is not going to do a Morgan’s Point and guarantee the entire project. That would be a recipe for disaster. Any move we make will be done in the right and responsible way, just as we did before the pandemic.

Instead of seeking to undermine and disrupt the delicate and ongoing negotiations between the government and Gencom, I would encourage the OBA to drop the hypocrisy, drop the attacks and get behind making Bermuda’s tourism recovery a reality.

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