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Demand for more information on Government support for Fairmont Southampton work

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Fairmont Southampton (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Details of any financial support the Government might give to aid the redevelopment of the Fairmont Southampton Hotel were demanded by the Opposition yesterday.

The One Bermuda Alliance said it also wanted a time frame for how long public involvement in the private sector renovation would continue.

Craig Cannonier, the shadow tourism minister and a former OBA premier, said the Progressive Labour Party administration could be getting involved with the type of financial commitments it had earlier criticised.

Mr Cannonier said: “They may have to swallow those words. We don’t know the specifics of what they are proposing. We need to know those specifics.”

He asked: “Is there a financial commitment?”

Mr Cannonier was speaking after David Burt, the Premier and tourism minister, announced that proposed government legislation designed to back the reopening of the landmark attraction would “provide certainty to the various investors who stand to inject over $200 million into this redevelopment”.

Mr Burt set a deadline of 15 months for the refurbishment of the hotel and said he hoped it would be reopen by the summer of 2023 – in time to accommodate large conferences in October next year.

Mr Burt added that legislation was being introduced to allow a casino at the hotel, which had 845 staff – 77 per cent of them Bermudian – before it closed down in 2020.

Mr Burt told the House of Assembly last week: “Cabinet has approved the preparation of a special Act of the legislature to ensure that Government support for the project is cemented in statutes.”

He said that the Government expected to hear back from the developers on financing proposals.

Mr Burt added that the structure for the financing of the work remained “a matter for discussion” among the parties involved.

He revealed the 15-month timeline after questions from Michael Dunkley of the One Bermuda Alliance.

Craig Cannonier, the shadow tourism minister (File photograph)

Mr Burt 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 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” at the hotel, which was the island’s biggest resort.

Fairmont Southampton guests represented 12 per cent of airport operator Skyport’s total passenger traffic between 2016 and 2019.

The hotel accommodated 28.5 per cent of visitors that arrived on the island before the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020.

A government spokesman declined to elaborate on the measures that could be used to help the redevelopment.

He said Mr Burt would “provide details when the Act is tabled in Parliament”.

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Published February 09, 2022 at 7:45 am (Updated February 09, 2022 at 9:18 am)

Demand for more information on Government support for Fairmont Southampton work

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