NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Atlantis officials have expressed their disappointment with the government’s decision to proceed with Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI) beach club project, labeling the approval as “premature.” In a statement released last evening, Atlantis President Audrey Oswell urged the public to petition the Government to “put on the brakes” and conduct a thorough examination of the project’s impact on the country. She noted that there are still unanswered questions concerning the project’s environmental and economic impact.
“I believe the green light is premature, with so many unanswered questions regarding the project’s environmental and economic impact still to be addressed,” Oswell said in the statement. “Like many in our Paradise Island community, I was puzzled by the government’s statement’s, including the suggestion that the RCI groundbreaking would take place, ‘almost immediately,’ despite the outstanding environment review.
“I appreciate my subsequent communication with Prime Minister Davis, who has assured me that all environmental due processes will be followed. It has not been confirmed that the RCI project does not pose serious threats to our beautiful beaches, marine life, and their habitats.”
The statement also emphasized that coastal development must be conducted with precision to avoid long-term adverse effects. It noted that a few months of genuine due diligence are critical to prevent irreversible damage that could last for decades.
In response to Oswell’s statement, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Chester Cooper, told Eyewitness News that his ministry is aware of Atlantis’s concerns and they can expect that all relevant parties involved in the entire approval process of the RCCL beach club deal will ensure that it is vetted properly. Minister Cooper also noted that approval of the project’s development is subject to an environmental impact assessment and an environmental management plan, and that the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection is aware of the questions raised by Atlantis and remains satisfied that the questions will be addressed as a part of the normal process.
On Tuesday, the government announced that it granted approval to RCI for its $100 million beach club project on Paradise Island. According to a previous statement from Deputy Prime Minister Cooper, the completed project will offer guests beach and water sport activities, as well as Bahamian entertainment and retail experiences. He also noted that the government will impose a Tourism Development Fund Levy of one percent of the annual gross revenue of the Royal Beach Club.