NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The entrepreneur behind the proposed $2 million restoration of Paradise Island’s lighthouse yesterday slammed the details of a Crown Land lease to Royal Caribbean for its multi-million dollar Beach Club project as “absolutely pathetic”.
“I find it absolutely ludacris that the former administration would sell out Bahamians for multiple generations to come. The details I am seeing reported around that deal is pathetic, absolutely pathetic,” said Smith.
Smith was referring to a Tribune Business report which revealed that the Minnis administration had effectively given Royal Caribbean a minimum 150-year lease over seven Crown Land acres on Paradise Island for its Beach Club project.
RCL was reportedly given an initial 25-year extension plus “no less than four additional options” which are also 25 years in length. The agreement reportedly commits Royal Caribbean to pay an annual $140,000 rent to the Government for use of land that it holds in trust for the benefit of the Bahamian people. Over a 25-year lease, this amounts to $3.5m in total rental income with VAT at 10 percent contributing a further $350,000 to the treasury.
“They’ve sold Bahamians down the river for at least 150 years,” Smith said.
“They didn’t offer me that type of arrangement. They’re charging me more and for less time,” said Smith.
Royal Caribbean is investing $50 million to develop a beach club destination, a move that is expected to generate an extra $26 million in visitor spend.
Meanwhile, Smith has proposed a $2 million restoration of Paradise Island’s lighthouse and is embroiled in an ongoing court battle with the government over a Crown land lease agreement that covers land included in Royal Caribbean’s lease.
Smith maintains that he was granted a valid Crown land lease for the land on which the lighthouse is situated and the area at Colonial Beach for his “beach break” destination.
Smith has taken legal action over the matter and remains confident that the courts will rule in his favour.
“Good things come to those who wait. I have confidence that the court is going to rule in my favour. We go to court in March, “ said Smith.