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BIMINI, The Bahamas - Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Perry Gladstone Christie along with several cabinet ministers, traveled to Bimini on Wednesday, August 14 for Phase II of the Resorts World 350-room luxury marina hotel. The Prime Minister also signed an agreement with EDSA to develop a master plan in the islands and announced plans for the beginning of Phase II of the South Bimini Airport expansion from 5400 ft to 6000 ft, to accommodate regional jets.
"Today is another wonderful day in our country, in that a number of ministers and myself have come to join Chairman Tan Sri KT Lim, his family and executive members of Resorts World in The Bahamas, a subsidiary of Genting, to announce and do the groundbreaking for a 350-room expansion," said Prime Minister Christie.
"What is so significant about this is that it boggles the imagination when one tries to understand how 350-rooms would be here in three months from today," he added.
Mr. Christie said that since the fast ferries started coming out of Florida, approximately 20,000 visitors have come to the island. He said that Resorts World has indicated that it anticipates the arrival of 400,000 visitors to Bimini annually. In addition, with the airport being expanded, Mr. Christie said that this would boost tourist's arrivals even further.
The initiatives coincide with the Prime Minister's recent announcement for the $150 million development plan spearheaded by Resorts World Bimini. The new hotel will feature contemporary-Bahamian style architecture and will offer luxurious accommodations overlooking the ocean and located adjacent to the newly opened Resorts World Bimini Casino. It is anticipated that the top three floors, consisting of 300 rooms, will be completed by Christmas 2013 with the remaining 50 garden villa suites being completed by the end of January 2014.
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Resorts World Bimini "did not bat an eyelid" at a government request to pay $250,000 for an independent consultant to review the company's environmental impact assessment (EIA), according to Khaalis Rolle, minister of state for investments.
Rolle and Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe yesterday suggested that the government is satisfied that the developer will do everything necessary to protect the environment as it moves ahead with construction of a 1,000-foot ferry terminal and accompanying island in an area filled with nearby reefs.
In an interview with Guardian Business, Rolle said Resorts World Bimini have met all demands made of them and the government decision to grant their construction permit for the ferry terminal comes as the government tries to ensure that it accommodates the pace with which Resorts World Bimini seeks to move ahead with its development of the island.
The minister of state noted that it is not uncommon for people to protest against developments.
Rolle was responding to comments from environmental groups, including the Bahamas National Trust, who have expressed "grave" concerns about the decision by Resorts World Bimini to move ahead with construction the ferry terminal in an area surrounded by reefs and dive sites.
The BNT is particularly concerned that the permit was given before it had a chance to review the EIA connected with the project, which it was recently provided after repeated requests.
An executive summary of the EIA connected with the project has indicated that the terminal will create "direct loss of low-relief marine habitat" surrounding the pier, which will allow a superfast ferry bringing an average 1,500 people a day to Bimini to dock.
The summary, obtained by Guardian Business, notes that there are 14 "excellent" dive spots within 1.5 miles of the terminal which is now under construction, and suggests monitoring "every five years" and the creation of "an artificial reef" to "mitigate the impact."
"The government is managing this process. We have people assigned to this as their only job. We are trying to keep up with the speed of business. What that means essentially is we look at what their needs are and we try to ensure that we meet those within all of the parameters set by the legal and regulatory authority.
"I listen to people complain about everything that is taking place. People complained and try to stop Baker's Bay; Baker's Bay is a very successful entity. Very successful," said Rolle yesterday.
The minister added: "The balanced obligation is to provide sustainable development, to provide jobs, and provide entrepreneurial opportunities and the only way we do that is if we attract partners. The residents can't do it alone. The government can't do it alone. What we are doing now is focusing on how we can get things done rather than focusing on why we shouldn't do anything at all."
The minister of tourism and MP for Bimini said Biminites have raised concerns with him about the project, but he believes it will ultimately be in the best interests of the island.
"Some Biminites would obviously raise concerns as they do with any development," he said. "But Biminites are looking for a better future, they are looking for a better economy, and you have to operate on the premise that you are making the right decisions in their interest and that keeps us up all night to ensure that you are making the right decisions, and I am praying hard that it goes well and I think it will go well."
"The BEST commission did its due diligence and gave its approval. So whoever has to carry the work for Genting has the awesome responsibility to ensure that there is no damage done to the coral, the reefs or the general area. So I have the sense that everyone is working to ensure that we work collectively to enhance, not destroy."
The EIA executive summary states that the ferry terminal will enable the visitor arrivals to Bimini to increase 11-fold, to 570,000 annually, "boosting" the local economy.
Dozens of Biminites were hired on the spot after successfully interviewing for jobs being offered during a Resorts World Bimini career fair held on the island on Wednesday.
Scores of Biminites began queuing up as early as 7:30 a.m. for a chance to fill one of the dozens of job openings being offered by the resort (RWB), reported a release from the company.
Organizers are describing the career fair as a tremendous success, based on the turnout and the caliber of people seeking employment.
RWB Director of Human Resources Dave Winslow said the career fair was necessary to fill existing positions, as well as those set to come on stream as the company expands. He said the company is dedicated to helping the community and providing opportunities for the citizens of Bimini.
"We have a number of positions in the existing operation that are vacant and we are looking to hire persons ahead of time in preparation for the opening of the jetty and hotel, so they can be fully trained to invite the many more guests that are going to come to our resort," he said.
"We thought this would be a great opportunity to invite Biminites to preview the jobs available, so we set this up so we could hire folks right on the spot. The quality of the persons that are coming are high-caliber professionals and we are welcoming many of them onto our team."
Also on hand for the career fair was Local Government Chief Councilor Lloyd Edgecombe, who was impressed by the staging of the fair and even more excited about the turn-out.
"I am seeing a lot of new faces of people trying to get into the job market, people who I never thought would be a part of this," he said. "The entire community is excited about what Resorts World is doing in Bimini. I see a lot of young people from the community who are excited and ready to get to work. I see a lot of young women here with young children to feed. This is putting money into people's pockets. This is important to us as Biminites. This is only the beginning of what's to come."
Community activist Vincent Ellis said the career fair is one of the best things that has ever happened to Bimini.
"We need this. Resorts World is doing a great thing here in Bimini. This turn-out says to me that the majority of the people support this project. We can't rely on doubt talks. We have to go with what we have. We have plenty people in Bimini to feed. Plenty people need jobs all over this commonwealth, so we say 'let's go ahead'."
The drive to hire more staff comes in preparation for major expansion at the resort.
Hundreds of additional jobs will be created in the months ahead with the openings of the port at Resorts World Bimini this summer and a 325-room luxury boutique hotel in late fall, noted RWB.
Applicants will be vying for positions in the hotel front office, housekeeping, slots, casino credit, food and beverage service, culinary, marketing, marina, transportation and security departments.
The career fair is expected to build on RWB's contribution to the island's economy as well as national employment figures.
Resorts World Bimini (RWB) continues to provide a significant boost to the economy of Bimini and the Bahamas as a whole, spending millions of dollars with local businesses in the process...
BIMINI, The Bahamas -- Resorts World Bimini (RWB) continues to provide a significant boost to the economy of Bimini and the Bahamas as a whole, spending millions of dollars with local businesses in the process. In 2014 alone, RWB spent more than $8.6 million with Bimini and New Providence based businesses for various goods and services including food and beverage, transportation, and entertainment.
"Resorts World Bimini continues to demonstrate its commitment to help fuel Bimini's economy," says RWB President Edward Farrell. "Bimini businesses are experiencing exponential growth as a result of our presence, and this will only get better as our project continues to expand."
One of the businesses directly and indirectly impacted by RWB's operation is Stuart's Conch Stand which supplies the resort with seafood for its restaurants as well as services many of the visitors who come to the island in search of the Bahamian delicacy. Proprietor Fabian Stuart says business has been on an upswing since the advent of RWB.
"We are grateful to Resorts World for their support," he said. "Business has been so good that we are in the process of expanding our operation and I'm really excited about what the future holds."
Another food vendor that has been servicing the Resort is Nate's Variety of Bimini Bread, which supplies bread to RWB's six restaurants.
Dr. Showalter Johnson, CEO of Global Village Group (GVG) and Harvard specialist in non-profit frameworks, recently toured Resorts World Bimini (RWB) to see firsthand all that the destination has to offer. Dr. Johnson, who founded GVG in 2010 to provide businesses with strategies and methods for improvement, was invited to take a look at RWB as the venue for the 2015 Commonwealth Economic Yearly Summit (CEYS) - an international conference that attracts some of the world's wealthiest investors, venture capitalists and business persons each year.
"As major leaders of industries across the globe, delegates who convene at the CEYS round table have come to expect the absolute best in terms of the quality of service provided by the facilities at which they meet," said Dr. Johnson as he toured the resort. "I am looking for a venue that is able to deliver on that expectation, and from what I see here, Resorts World Bimini is more than able to do so."
Dr. Johnson was apprised of RWB's luxury marina resort, which is forecasted for a soft opening in the late fall of 2014 and a full opening by the winter of 2015. The new 305-room marina hotel will offer luxury accommodations, water views and state-of-the-art conference meeting space - ideal for the level of persons who will be attending the CEYS summit, including some of the world's wealthiest entrepreneurs.
RWB Executive Dana Leibovitz said the new facility and Bimini as a whole would serve as an ideal venue for the conclave.
"The CEYS summit has a track record of bringing some of the brightest minds in commerce together," he said, "which could only be of great benefit to Bimini - particularly to the business community here who would have opportunities for knowledge transfer and possible partnerships. With our luxury marina and the unmatched beauty of Bimini as a backdrop, the meeting would be memorable on multiple levels, and we would be delighted to be in the mix of it all."
CEYS has created a Commonwealth Sovereign Program geared towards encouraging at least two members of a household to become entrepreneurs, and thereby sparking economic growth, investment and development, the empowerment of business leaders and the creation of new ones. In addition to insightful workshops and presentations, delegates to the conference are invited to a unique billionaire's round table discussion in an effort to foster future collaborations. Taking into consideration Bimini's rapidly growing economy as a result of the presence of Resorts World, the island would serve as the ideal venue for the summit.
Hundreds of travel agents will descend on Sandals Royal Bahamian and Sandals Emerald Bay in the coming week as the resorts continue their travel agent familiarization season (Mega-Fam).
By the end of December each resort would have hosted approximately 1,200 travel agents.