Government to give support for reopening of Fairmont Southampton
Legislation for Government-backed support for the reopening of the Fairmont Southampton Hotel is to go before the House of Assembly.
David Burt, the Premier, said the move would “provide certainty to the various investors who stand to inject over $200 million into this redevelopment”.
Mr Burt set a timeline of 15 months to refurbish the hotel and said he hoped it would be reopen by the summer of 2023 – or in time to accommodate large conferences by October next year.
Mr Burt said: “I will also introduce into the legislature today a designated site order for the property, which is the first step in the process to secure a casino licence.”
He added: “Cabinet has approved the preparation of a special Act of the legislature to ensure that Government support for the project is cemented in statutes.”
Mr Burt said that the Government expected to hear back from the developers on financing proposals.
He added: “The financing structure remains a matter for discussion as between the parties but I can confirm that we expect to receive a substantive response to the Government’s most recent position today.”
Mr Burt gave the 15-month timeline for refurbishment of the resort after questions from Michael Dunkley of the One Bermuda Alliance.
He said a casino was “essential” for a large resort such as the Fairmont Southampton.
The designated site order for gaming covers the property from the main hotel, which overlooks the South Shore, to the hotel’s Waterlot Inn at Jews Bay.
The order designated the property an “integrated resort”, which could include a casino, for five years from the order’s publication.
Mr Burt pledged Bermudians would be “first preferred and first hired” for the revival of the Fairmont Southampton, which was the island’s biggest resort.
Fairmont Southampton guests represented 12 per cent of airport operator Skyport’s total passenger traffic between 2016-19.
He added that the hotel had made up 28.5 per cent of hotel guests that arrived on the island before the pandemic.
Mr Burt said reopening the resort marked “a singular opportunity to make a strong statement about Bermuda’s tourism fortunes”.
He told MPs the reconstruction of tourism in an industry ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic was a “mammoth task” and that 2022 marked a “critical” year for recovery.
Mr Burt highlighted the rebuilding of air arrivals and said the figures from the fourth quarter of 2021 were “grim reading”.
He said there was a decrease of air capacity of 52.4 per cent compared with the pre-pandemic 2019.