NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A Bahamian entrepreneur yesterday reiterated calls for Royal Caribbean to “cease and desist” developing Crown land he asserts had initially been granted to him for a beach club.
Toby Smith, principal of Paradise Island Lighthouse & Beach Club Company, in a statement yesterday reminded Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and Royal Caribbean of the ongoing legal challenge before the courts.
“This flagrant arrogance of a foreign entity coming to our Bahamian shores and telling Bahamians where they can and cannot go while we have a valid lease is a slap in the face to all Bahamians,” said Smith.
“Furthermore, this Minnis-led government is complicit in the actions of stampeding over a Bahamian’s project on Bahamian Crown land.”
Smith referenced a recent email exchange with Jay Schneider, Royal Caribbean’s chief product innovation officer, who asserted that Royal Caribbean was not involved in Smith’s prior dealings with the government and was in possession of a “valid” Crown land lease.
Royal Caribbean is investing $50 million to develop its beach club destination, a move that is expected to generate an extra $26 million in visitor spend.
Smith has proposed a $2 million restoration of Paradise Island’s lighthouse, and initiated legal action against the government for failing to give effect to his Crown land lease. His ongoing court battle with the government is over a Crown land lease agreement that covers land included in Royal Caribbean’s lease.
He asserts 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 urged Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines to publicly disclose how much of its revenue generated in The Bahamas is sent out of the country.
“Enough is enough. Why is it Bahamians must apply, ask, beg, kiss butt and then take the government to court to have their lease honored?” Smith asked.
“My case is not unique; this is shared by many Bahamians day in and day out while they (the government) pander to foreigners and give them everything including our kitchen sink. They look down their noses at Bahamians bathing in tin tub.”