Yesterday, The Bahamas Government signed a “Heads of Agreement” with Kerzner International, putting in motion the $600 million Phase III of the Atlantis, Paradise Island resort development project. Once completed, the expansion will position the Atlantis property as the largest single resort development in the world. Prime Minister Christie said the impact on the economy is expected to be “enormous and far-reaching”. He also said it is impossible to envisage a more compelling indication of investor confidence in the government and the people of The Bahamas. The expansion will bring Kerzner’s investment here to $1.7 billion.

Phase III includes a new 1,200 room hotel; three new luxury villas at the Ocean Club; 20,000 square foot of additional restaurant and retail facilities around the Atlantis marina; extension of water-theme attractions, including (subject to environmental safeguards) a dolphin-encounter attraction; 120 two-bedroom time-share units fronting on Nassau Harbour; a world-class, ecologically sensitive link golf course; and a fire and ambulance station.

Also included in the plans are 50,000 square feet of additional convention facilities, and the Prime Minister noted that the Government will be continuing negotiations with the United States for tax deductions for businesses holding conventions in The Bahamas. The agreement signed last evening includes joint marketing of programmes between the Ministry of Tourism and Kerzner International. This involves up to $4 million per year for a period of five years with Kerzner International matching government contributions dollar for dollar.

The government has extended to Kerzner the investment incentives available under the Hotels Encouragement Act and other legislation. It has committed, also, to providing the necessary sound and dependable infrastructure to support this major development.

At the signing, Kerzner International President Butch Kerzner said, *”When we are complete with this project, Atlantis will have between 3,500 and 3,600 rooms employing, on the property, a minimum of 8,000 Bahamians. I think the scale of what we have agreed today, and what we have been negotiating over the last several months to achieve, is extraordinarily historic and clearly demonstrates the enormous confidence in The Bahamas, in its government and in the prospects of where we are going to head from here.”*

Minister of Financial Service and Investments, the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, is confident that the increase in investment by a developer of this quality and calibre will attract unprecedented amounts of investments to The Bahamas.