Despite the controversy surrounding the proposed plans of Disney to create a cruise destination at Lighthouse Point in South Eleuthera, a recent poll conducted this weekend of 994 households across the country, revealed that of the 994 individuals polled, 235 individuals or 38 per cent – 311 males and 310 females, were “very much” in support of the development, while 161 individuals, some 26 per cent, did not support the cruise initiative.
The recent poll to gauge the public’s view of the proposed development was recently conducted by Public Domain.
The poll revealed that 171 individuals or 28 per cent, “somewhat” supported the development, while 54 individuals or nine per cent “somewhat” did not support the development.
Disney has proposed creating a cruise destination at Lighthouse Point in South Eleuthera.
The low-density development, according to Disney, will serve as a place for Disney guests to relax and spend time with their families on the property’s beaches, while also having the opportunity to enjoy nature, visit shopping and dining locations and explore Eleuthera more broadly.
Of the 922 individuals polled, 622 individuals had heard of the new proposed development while 372 or 37 per cent said they did not.
The biggest reason for not supporting the Lighthouse Development, according to the Public Domain poll was possible environmental damage, of which 46 out of 215 individuals – or 21 per cent felt this way.
Fourteen per cent claimed that the government had already given too much land to foreign developers.
Meanwhile, 12 per cent felt as if there would be the loss of local access to Lighthouse Point
Another 12 per cent polled said they did not like/trust the cruise industry.
Other reasons listed for not supporting the Lighthouse Point Development was the loss of access to the beaches at Lighthouse Point and not trusting the government to ensure that Bahamians got the best deal, of which both were polled at 9 per cent, or 20 of the 215 individuals questioned.
Six per cent felt as if they needed more information and that Bahamians would not benefit from the project.
Five per cent participating in the poll felt as if the project did not have a broad economic impact
Four per cent cited government corruption, they were not sure Bahamians would be employed, they believed Bahamians could do it themselves, or they felt as if the area should be preserved.
Two per cent said the project is not needed in Eleuthera and should have been taken to Grand Bahama. Another two per cent was not sure or refused to say.
One per cent expressed the belief that the company would say one thing and do another, while another 1 percent said that they wanted the property leased.
In recent interviews Disney claimed that it would protect and sustain the natural beauty of the site, provide economic opportunity for Bahamians, help strengthen the community and celebrate the culture of The Bahamas. Disney also said that Bahamians would have full access to the property and they will not develop the southern-most point or allow Disney guests to visit it.
But despite Disney’s claims, Environmental groups and non-governmental organizations such as Re-Earth Bahamas, the Bahamas National Trust (BNT), Save the Bays and the One Eleuthera Foundation, have railed against the proposed development to sell the privately-owned land to Disney, claiming a cruise port will decimate the environment.
Meanwhile the Public Domain poll outlined that having heard some of the claims made by groups who oppose the Lighthouse Point development, 263 of 994 individuals polled – 27 per cent were “very likely” to support the project; 308 – 32 per cent, were “somewhat likely”; 221 – 22 per cent were “not likely at all” and 115 – 12 per cent were “not very likely.”
Some 221 of the 994 polled – 22 per cent, said it was important to receive more information about the environmental impact of the project, while 209 persons were interested in the economic impact that the project would have for Eleuthera.
Also, of the 994 individuals polled, 373 individuals or 38 per cent, said they would like the news media to keep them informed about the project. Twenty-eight per cent would like to hear from the prime minister and 14 per cent wanted to hear from the Minister of the Environment.
Disney Cruise Line President Jeff Vahle said the company will more or less be good stewards of the environment. He told the press in a recent statement that Disney is focused on conservation and the company is absolutely committed to doing the right thing and would never risk the natural beauty of the island.
Vahle also noted in earlier interviews that the project already has the funding in place as well as a contract with the buyer of the private land. He said the company is only waiting for government approval and if and when that happens, he said, work will begin immediately and will most likely open in late 2022.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis recently assured the media that the government will make the best decision in the interest of the Bahamian people as it relates to a controversial project. He said that he has been in discussion with Disney and intends to garner feedback from residents at town meetings.