While Royal Caribbean Group’s (RCG) recently released environmental impact assessment stated that the project was targeting to start construction as early as next month, its Vice President of Private Destinations James Boink said developers will only move forward with construction once it has received full approval.
Boink was responding to questions by Guardian Business for clarification on whether a legal challenge for the Crown land on Paradise Island in the vicinity of where it plans to develop its $110 million Royal Beach Club would delay the start of construction.
“We are targeting starting the project once we receive all of our approvals,” Boink said during a Royal Beach Club at Paradise Island and Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP) Public Consultation held virtually yesterday evening.
“We are not a party to the matter that I understand is in the Supreme Court. We respect the process and we respect the laws. Based on our counsel, we understand that we are following everything and following the process. So, once we receive all approvals for our project is when we will begin construction.”
Boink confirmed that the company entered into a lease agreement for the land on the western portion of Paradise Island, which has been embroiled in controversy as Paradise Island Lighthouse & Beach Club Co. Ltd. (PILBC) principal Toby Smith has claimed the government agreed to lease the land to him in May.
“In regard to the lease, we have an executed lease with the government for both the Crown land and the seabed lease [which was] executed on May 25, 2021,” he said.
“So, we hereby follow all laws and we currently have a valid lease and are proceeding through the approval process as it was explained to us.”
Director of DEPP Rochelle Newbold said, “Royal Caribbean does indeed have a valid lease issued by the government. As it relates to any challenges to legality of that lease, we are informed that the previous individual who claims to have rights to that land is seeking to have the matter redressed in court.”
She added, “However, the legal advisors for the government have advised that the lease granted to Royal Caribbean is indeed legal and lawful and the matter should proceed as is prescribed by the environmental law.”
RCG has said its project would have a $1 billion impact on the Bahamian economy over 10 years, employ 250 Bahamians, increase the number of cruise passengers through the Port of Nassau by two million annually and provide an additional amenity for Bahamians and tourists to enjoy.
Royal Caribbean has set May 2023 as its completion date for the project.