Column: Importance Of Southampton Princess

March 10, 2022

[Opinion column written by 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.

Fairmont Southampton Bermuda generic 3221

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.”

- MP Zane Desilva, Constituency 29 – Southampton East


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Comments (6)

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  1. CB2 says:

    Dearest Zane,

    You letter make me now feel that your company will getting a contract or two for this whole deal. The world is a changing place and tourists are evolving. Younger (under 40) prefer short term rentals as it allows them and family to relax.

    You are forcing out a hotel when they ones we have already are empty. Pease stop with build it and they will come. Your grandkids will thank you as I’m sure they do not wish to grow up on an island that has $0.

  2. watching says:

    Many of those who are questioning this project are speaking through a political lens. Most who are thinking objectively and through a lens of what is best for Bermuda will understand that the renovation, and reopening of the largest property in Bermuda can only be beneficial to our country as a whole.
    Think of the jobs that will be created during the renovation phase.
    Think of the jobs that will be created once the hotel has reopened.
    Think of the much needed rooms that will be added to the hotel inventory.
    Think of the dollars invested into the economy by all of the above.
    Think of how the additional inventory can impact our ability to revive some of the flights to gateway cities.

    I understand due to the Morgans Point/Caroline bay debacle that there are hesitations about government guarantees, however, if concessions and guarantees are required to incentivize investors into our hospitality industry, then why are we so reluctant? Yes it may add to our financial responsibilities, but look also at the amount of jobs and people that would be positively impacted and at the revenues that could be generated. We must provide opportunities for the widest cross section of Bermudians. IB is not going to employ everyone, and there are definite employment opportunities in the hospitality sector.

    I look forward to the rebirth of the Fairmont Southampton, and I hope that a successful project will be the lead and also contribute to sale of Elbow Beach, construction at Ariel sands, and development at Cambridge. Once we get more visitors in Bermuda, at all of these properties, we will see more monies being spent all over. Also looking forward to the redevelopment at St George’s Club and the marina in St Geo. That will also help the East end.

    I think people are looking for an immediate panacea, and that may not exist, but that doesn’t mean we don’t stay focused and chip away where we can.

  3. unknown800k says:

    A ego mania zane, now report how much was made an americas cup.

  4. sirjohnsyacoola says:

    A zaney care to discuss the hilton on south shore.
    port royal.
    dock yard
    800k to unknown entertainer
    dancing on tables.
    Talk about hypocrisy

  5. Double S says:

    Someone is eyeing up some lucrative construction contracts! Sing, sing!

  6. Truthhertz says:

    “I would encourage the OBA to drop the hypocrisy, drop the attacks and get behind making Bermuda’s tourism recovery a reality.”

    Why should they? The PLP and their cohorts didn’t drop the attacks or division during the AC and other hotel related initiatives (St. regis etc).

    So no Zane, they should act just like you and your Party did when in Opposition.