Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest yesterday chastised Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis for declaring that a PLP government would cancel any lease granted to Royal Caribbean International (RCI) for Crown land to develop a beach club for its guests on the western tip of Paradise Island.
Royal Caribbean has applied to the government for a Crown land lease, but a small Bahamian developer has already secured approval from the Minnis administration to lease a portion of the land in question.
However, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, the minister with responsibility for lands, has not yet signed the lease agreement for Toby Smith, the principal of Paradise Island Lighthouse and Beach Club Company Limited, to get the land.
On the sidelines of a tour of the New Providence Ecology Park, Turnquest said Davis ought to “be reserved about the comments that he makes” until he knows more about the details of the RCI project.
“It is a regrettable statement that they would make,” Turnquest told reporters.
“As we all know, the world is struggling for growth right now and so any confusion or concern that is expressed around these investments, illegitimate concerns, is truly regrettable, as the minister of tourism would have said.
“I think the leader of the opposition should acquaint himself with the details of the project and until he has an opportunity to do that, I would just only suggest that he might want to be reserved about the comments that he makes.”
RCI President Michael Bayley has said it wants to create a Bahamian experience for its guests. The company has already spent around $50 million securing private residential property on Paradise Island.
It reportedly plans to pump $50 million into the P.I. project.
Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar told The Nassau Guardian the government is supportive of what RCI is seeking to do because the menu of options for visitors to The Bahamas needs to be diversified.
Smith is seeking to develop a beach club on a portion of the five acres he got approval for.
The Crown land matter remains unresolved.
RCI also recently signed a heads of agreement with the government for the sale of the Grand Lucayan resort and the development of a cruise port on Grand Bahama.
The sale of the resort has been highly anticipated as its eventual reopening is expected to be a much-needed boost for the economy of Grand Bahama.
That agreement has not yet been made public. It has left some to wonder whether approval for the Grand Bahama project was also tied to pending approval for the Paradise Island project.
D’Aguilar said the government will make the Grand Lucayan deal public when it deems the time is right.
Turnquest also told reporters yesterday, “The heads of agreement and all of the details surrounding will be tabled eventually, and so, again I would only suggest that we wait for the details and then [the opposition] would have a legitimate position from which to make whatever comments they want to.”