Tuesday, Jul 14, 2020
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Take a stand and say no to Disney

Whatever your opinion may be of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, I am sure you can admit that he took a stand that essentially cost him his football career.

Kaepernick made a conscious choice to kneel during the American national anthem to protest police violence against black Americans. His choice of action has had a mixed response from people scratching their heads, applauding and feeling pure anger, as demonstrated by President of the United States Donald Trump, who unapologetically insists Kaepernick should face recourse for his actions.

Because of his kneeling protest, he has not played football in over three years; no professional team has acquired him due to the backlash that they fear they may endure supporting him.

Recently, Nike, one of the largest sporting outfitters in the world, signed him up to be their poster boy for standing up for what he believes in. Despite this public endorsement of his ethical beliefs, the debate continues; scores of his former teammates have joined in the protest, despite threats from the team owners.

Closer to home we have the controversy of Disney Cruise Line, which is currently attempting to acquire by purchase Lighthouse Point — a 700-acre plot of land on the southern tip of Eleuthera.

The One Eleuthera foundation has been fighting this purchase and has gotten support from such organizations as the Bahamas National Trust and ReEarth.

The minister of tourism has said that the government will not sanction commercial development, however there is the possibility that a portion of it might be allowed to develop commercially. Not quite sure what the good minister is saying, but when it comes to the cruise ships, they wield a lot of power and islands like ours seem powerless to stop them.

Like most of the Caribbean islands, we have been bullied and out-gunned by the cruise lines, and it appears that with them and in many other situations, we are often out-maneuvered and out-negotiated by them; either we are blinded by their foot work or just plain inept.

This situation is all too similar to days past of politicians during election time, especially on the Family Islands, taking unfair advantage of the voters by providing rice, sugar and flour to these poor, unsuspecting souls, only now the stakes are much higher.

We must bring in our best business minds, state our case and stick to the script, and allow them to negotiate the best deal for us. This, of course, is one of the most prominent reasons an individual would retain a real estate broker to sell your house or business. It is the real estate agent’s task to negotiate on your behalf, ensure that you get the absolute best and fair price for your home.

The architects association has come out in support of The One Eleuthera Foundation, in its quest to keep Lighthouse Point out of Disney hands.

The association is to be congratulated in its stance to oppose such a development; bearing in mind that’s how architects earn a living — by designing buildings. Instead they have decided to put aside their own personal agenda and come together for the common good of the country.

I have asked the Bahamas Real Estate Association to consider following the architects’ lead and oppose the sale to Disney, however the silence from them is deafening

Several cruise ships have islands in The Bahamas which are controlled with little benefit to Bahamians. Tourists who frequent these islands do not experience the real Bahamas, and instead just spend their time doing water sports which are incidentally controlled by the cruise lines. My fear lies in these salient facts, as it appears if Disney Cruise Line gets its hands on Lighthouse Beach it would be business as usual, with no real benefit to us.

The One Eleuthera Foundation has laid out its plans for the development of Lighthouse Point, touting it as a potential eco-resort site and a national park, which would employ residents who live in the area via restaurants and stores. The One Eleuthera vision includes assisting locals with training and accessing funding.

If this jewel gets in the hands of Disney, despite what they say, we will not benefit, and only a few low-paying jobs would be dished out.

Lighthouse Point should remain in the hands of Bahamians and be developed as an eco-resort site which we all can enjoy, as a flagship for eco-tourism in the Caribbean.

Please, Just say no to Disney.

• William Wong is a two-term president of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation and two-term president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association. William Wong is a partner at Darville-Wong Realty. E-mail: williamuwong@gmail.com.

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