Baha Mar rising
Published: Aug 03, 2013
Driving west on New Providence it is hard not to be amazed by the giant of a resort rising to the sky. Baha Mar, which is being financed and built by the Chinese, is getting closer and closer to completion. The scheduled finish date is December 2014.
There was much debate over the funding of the resort and the wisdom of allowing a large number of Chinese to enter The Bahamas and build it when the Ingraham administration gave the go-ahead for the project in its last term. All that noise has turned to silence. Bahamians now await the completion of the development and hope it will give a shot in the arm to a sick economic patient.
The resort is of the scope and scale of Atlantis – a resort that employed upwards of 9,000 people at its peak. If Baha Mar matches that and both resorts are able to comfortably coexist, the 14-plus percent unemployment rate in The Bahamas will fall significantly. Many young men and women who have struggled to find work for years have something to look forward to. Baha Mar should also help boost property values in the west. Property owners, lawyers and real estate agents should do well.
Bahamians should stop and take note of what exists here in the resort industry and what is coming. At one point Atlantis was the largest Vegas-styled resort in the world outside of Las Vegas. Baha Mar is the largest single-phase resort project currently being developed in the Western Hemisphere. Bahamians through Atlantis have had the opportunity to gain world-class experience and salaries much higher than were known in the tourism sector before the resort was developed. Baha Mar will expand that potential and it is up to us to maximize what is possible as line staff, middle managers, executives and as independent businesspeople doing work for the new resort. Young people must push themselves to have the qualifications necessary to take advantage of every opportunity.
There is a doom and gloom sentiment in The Bahamas now, as many of our social indicators reveal dysfunction. The crime rate is high, the education level is low and many of the state agencies that administer critical services are in precarious financial positions. Baha Mar provides hope.
The look and feel of western New Providence are dramatically changing as a result of Baha Mar, just as Paradise Island changed as a result of Atlantis. With development and increased prosperity come change. We hope the opening of this resort powers The Bahamas through this decade just as the Kerzner development carried us through the 10-year period beginning in the mid-1990s.