Golf course in Bermuda
Photo Credit: Provided
The National Democratic Party (NDP) administration has not shelved its vision to build golf courses as part of development plans. In fact, Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith said that with the rebuilding following the storms, this would be a good time.
He however told reporters that it is not as top priority as the expansion of the TB Lettsome International Airport.
Premier Smith was asked by reporters if government would revisit the idea if a proposal is to come to government.
“Of course we will consider it. I think it’s maybe not a top priority like the airport itself, which is the number one priority in that area, but it is something that is useful and helps to bring a certain type of visitors to the Territory,” he said at a press conference last week.
He added, “And anything that improves the number of visitors coming to enjoy what we have here in the BVI will be useful for us.”
In the past, the NDP was criticised for plans to build golf courses on Virgin Gorda.
During the 2015 general elections, Hon. Dr. Hubert O’Neal, Ninth District Representative, campaigned on the plans.
He said that value will be added to Virgin Gorda and Anegada by developing golf courses at the South Sound on Virgin Gorda and on Anegada.
Dr. O’Neal had indicated that this added feature will attract high-end tourists to the islands year-round.
He believed that known golfers playing major tournaments will create employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for Virgin Gordians and Anegadians.
However, the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Ninth District candidate at the time, Mr. Elton 'All Out' Sprauve said the plans were old empty promises from 1999.
He noted at the time, “By the way, I wonder if they realize that South Sound is mostly private land."
Still In Talks With Airport Investors
Meanwhile, Premier Smith told reporters at last week’s press conference that the BVI Airport Authority (BVIAA) is still in talks with companies interested in developing the airport.
“There have been ongoing discussions with the airport authority. I am not at this point able to talk about those discussions, which would hopefully lead to something good for the BVI…with persons or groups who are interested,” he said.
As reported earlier, in February, Premier Smith had indicated that the BVIAA had commenced talks with potential investors and noted that the authority is yet to make a formal presentation to government on the status of those talks.
In January, Premier Smith had disclosed that his government has scrapped its previous proposed plan for the project and is now in search of an investor who will fund the project and control the airport for about 20 years.
This will be done through the concession model, as against the previous plan for government to design, finance and build.
Premier Smith said that the concession model will see a Private/Public Partnership (PPP) approach. He said that the new approach will not only lengthen the runway, but also see major development at the terminal.
The Premier disclosed that by adding the terminal enhancement, the project has increased from $153M to $250M.
It should be noted that the Expansion Outlined Business Case of May 2016, which was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services Limited (PwC), had listed $153 million for the expansion of the runway and terminal upgrade.
It is still unclear why the substantial difference in the new budgeted amount and the case study.