Baha Mar began their recruitment drive on Monday to fill 1,500 positions needed for the casino and premiere hotel property’s planned Phase I opening on April 21, 2017, under new ownership by Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE).

According to a report from The Tribune newspaper, Robert Sands, Baha Mar’s senior vice-president of government and external affairs says that the company’s career website along with Facebook and other social media had seen 1,000 applications and 500 inquiries on Monday, with those number ballooning to almost 4,500 applications by Wednesday.

Baha Mar has been mired in conflict, political and otherwise since several announced opening dates going back to 2014 have come and gone and a lengthy legal process wherein the property went into receivership and was eventually purchased outright by CTFE.

Jeffery Lloyd, the former Executive Director of the Baha Mar Leadership Development Institute called Monday’s numbers “significantly low” and “alarming” according to the news outlet. By late May of 2014, Baha Mar had received over 14,000 applications when the property was slated for a December opening that year, according to media reports at the time.

Lloyd, who is an opposition candidate with the Free National Movement said: “Their returns on their actions this week is significantly low compared to what was done in 2013,” according to the Tribune. “When we were advertising 150 positions there were over 5,000 people who responded – the return was massive. We went into communities and thousands showed up to seek employment opportunities.” Lloyd said.

The Nassau Guardian reports the current jobless rate 16.2 percent, up 2.2 percent over last year. Those numbers were affected by Hurricane Matthew which struck Grand Bahama Islan in October 2016. The rate in Grand Bahama, where some hotels and a casino are yet to reopen is currently 19.5 percent.

Mr. Lloyd said, “A project of this magnitude should captivate everyone. In a country where the unemployment rate is where it is at, you’re telling me that those persons without jobs aren’t pushing to get these new jobs?”

Not everyone is as pessimistic about employment interest in the $3.5 billion casino resort as the opposition candidate and any number of things could have contributed to a slow response on the first day of the employment drive.

The first wave of hiring is expected to service 1,800 hotel rooms, a convention center, and golf course, as well as the casino in as little as 13 weeks. Prime Minister Perry Christie expects to see up to 3,300 people employed by August 2017, and 4,300 by December 2017, when the resort is expected to be fully open and operational.