Bahamas in Deal with Disney to Develop Cruise Port and Entertainment Facility
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has announced that his government has signed a Heads of Agreement with Disney Island Development Ltd for a proposed Cruise Port and entertainment facility in South Eleuthera.
The development has a projected investment of between US$250 million and US$400 million.
Disney completed acquisition of the property at Lighthouse Point, Bannerman Town from the private seller. Approximately 190 acres of the land purchased, including the southernmost point of the property, will be conveyed to the government for conservation and a national park. The appraised value of the land donation is US$6.29 million.
Under the Heads of Agreement, Disney Cruise Line (DCL) will ensure a minimum of 120 Bahamians are directly employed during the construction of the project.
Disney has also committed to aim for an overall ratio of 80 per cent Bahamian workers to 20 per cent non-Bahamian workers during the life of the construction phase of the project. This is subject to qualified labour being available and the need to ensure the highest level of technical compliance with international standards.
Once construction is completed, DCL says it will create as many as 150 permanent, sustainable jobs with health benefits in a range of positions for Bahamians.
Under the agreement, space must be provided for Bahamian vendors on the property for the sale of authentic, high quality Bahamian retail goods, services, souvenirs, arts and crafts, Bahamian T-shirts and other merchandise.
Disney must also give priority to Bahamian owners and operators to provide port adventures for DCL guests while its ships are in port, and will seek to use Bahamian entertainers.
Other elements of the project include the integration of Bahamian cultural and artistic expression into the design of the site and experiences offered.
Disney also will provide all citizens and residents of The Bahamas with access to the property for non-commercial purposes and will collaborate with Government and local communities to meaningfully contribute to initiatives that meet community needs, with a special focus on children and families. This includes assisting with local schools, assisting with identifying and enhancing tourist heritage sites in South Eleuthera and exploring opportunities to improve medical facilities that serve the residents of south and central Eleuthera.
Prime Minister Minnis said construction of the project will not begin until the Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management Plan are reviewed and approved.
“The Government of The Bahamas is satisfied that it made the best decision in the interest of the Bahamian people, a sustainable future for the people of Central and South Eleuthera and the economic development of the country,” he said.
“The implementation of this project supports the government’s plan of expanding the economy of our country and economic opportunities for our people by promoting development in the Family Islands.”
In a statement issued yesterday, after the opposition accused the government of lack of transparency in the agreement with Disney, Prime Minister Minnis said the Heads of Agreement will be tabled at the earliest meeting of the House of Assembly, next Wednesday, March 20.