Written by Senator Douglas De Couto, Ph.D., Shadow Minister for Economic Development and Spokesperson for Tourism
One year ago today, then-Minister of Finance, the Hon. Curtis Dickinson resigned over the Government’s concessions to and agreement with Gencom for the Fairmont Southampton, because it was such a bad deal for Bermuda.
It’s now two years since the Fairmont Southampton closed and there still appears to be no progress on the site. The only area Gencom seems to be progressing is in the development of the condos.
Recently, area residents received a letter consulting them on the environmental impact of the “residential development”; presumably the condos, to be built tax-free by Gencom.
Like all of Bermuda, we have many questions for the Government, such as: what is the current status of the project? Has financing been secured? When will construction start? And when will the hotel reopen? Will the condos be bult before the hotel reopens?
Based on the history of missed deadlines, lack of transparency, and unmet promises, we are unlikely to get any answers. Time and time again the Premier promises dates, and time and time again, nothing happens.
As a brief recap:
In 2021, Government negotiated a guarantee with Gencom, which was unable even to come up with the finances to pay redundancy to the hotel staff.
When Gencom closed the hotel, they said it would reopen in April 2022. By March 2022 the Premier said he was “confident” construction would commence, and developers announced a plan for a “grand re-opening” in 2023. But here we are a year later and still nothing.
In October 2022 the Premier told PLP delegates the deal “is ready to go” – but four months later, it’s clear the hotel reopening is nowhere in sight.
We demand the Government explain what, if anything at all, they are doing to progress this, or any other project, to secure Bermuda’s tourism future.
We are concerned that the Premier has become distracted by his personal political problems and has not paid suitable attention to this project of vital national importance.
We need answers because the people of Bermuda deserve better than this.