Paradise Island Proposal has two Major Investors Taking Sides
#TheBahamas, April 6, 2023 – There have been debates in the media on the Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI) $100 million project and Atlantis has been at the forefront as of recently, speaking out against it. In what seems to be a response to the unrest over the past couple of weeks surrounding the project, Royal Caribbean has revealed that in the coming weeks, they will share not only the economic benefit of the project but also its impact on the environment; they say that they are moving through the Government’s strict environmental processes and that in the pending review, Bahamians will be privy to their innovative and industry-leading plans.
According to Audrey Oswell, President and Managing Director at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, they have been paying keen attention to the project since it was proposed in 2020.
However, it wasn’t until recently that they opted to “join the debate” and publicly speak out on some of their concerns.
This is due to the environmental concerns of Paradise Island upon the execution of the project.
In a memo to employees at the resort, Oswell pointed out that the possible impact of the project on the Paradise Island’s beaches, marine life, and water supply could be catastrophic if the necessary environmental controls are not carefully planned and executed.
As stated by Oswell, Atlantis prioritises environmental care.
“As the leader of tourism for The Bahamas and long-time stewards of the ocean and its marine life, caring for the environment has become part of our DNA. It is at the core of who we are and what we do.”
Not only that, but Atlantis is also at risk according to Oswell who highlighted that whatever happens on Paradise Island could negatively impact the guests and employees.
Atlantis and environmental groups have been concerned about whether the project’s review, and approval process will follow all the necessary protocols to ensure that the marine environment doesn’t suffer. Information on how the project will unfold and its impact (the plans), has not been available.
Oswell said that in 2021 they attended a public presentation on the project alongside other interested entities, and they submitted some questions to RCI and the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP), regarding the project but no responses were forthcoming.
RCI and the Government, in early March, hinted that the project was close to approval and this led to Atlantis Resort and “others in the Nassau/Paradise Island community,” to speak out in surprise and concern, acknowledging those lingering unanswered questions.
In response to this, Phillip Davis, Bahamas Prime Minister expressed that the review process which includes the evaluation of the environmental impact assessment ‘was still underway, and would be thorough.”
Hoping that the Government will keep its word, many wait in eager anticipation, the release of RCI’s plan for the Royal Beach Club project at Paradise Island.
Universal Healthcare Coverage Cited as a Big-Ticket Item at 76th World Health Assembly in Geneva
#TheBahamas, May 23, 2023 – Health & Wellness Minister the Honourable Dr. Michael R. Darville, in a pre-assembly interview, has forecast that Non-Communicable Diseases, Universal Healthcare Coverage, areas associated with the pandemic and Anti-microbial Resistance are some of the hot-ticket items on this year’s agenda at the 76th World Health Assembly. Minister Darville who is heading a delegation from The Bahamas comprised of representatives of the Ministry of Health & Wellness, the Public Hospitals Authority and the National Health Insurance Authority cited universal healthcare coverage as a major pillar of the Geneva discussions as the intention is to put it in place globally by the year 2030. He said the government equates the provision of healthcare services with equity across the Bahamas as a priority. This he said will become even more evident when the Parliament moves on new legislation to repeal the old National Health Insurance Act.
The Opening session of the 76th World Health Assembly takes place on Sunday May 21st in Geneva, Switzerland. This year’s Assembly is being held under the theme Saving lives, driving health for all, and it comes as the WHO celebrates its 75th anniversary.
The World Health Assembly (WHA) is the decision-making body of WHO. It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The main functions of the World Health Assembly are to determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget. The Health Assembly is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland.
Press Release: Ministry of Health & Wellness
DPM says Grand Bahama “is on the move”
By ROBYN ADDERLEY, BIS
#TheBahamas, May 23, 2023 – Grand Bahama “is on the move” said Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Chester Cooper when asked about the Grand Lucayan prior to the Cabinet Meeting held in Freeport on Tuesday, May 16, 2023.
The Minister of Tourism, Investments, and Aviation said, “We have taken the position that we want to validate proof of funding and we are in the process of going through that at the moment. The government knows how important the property is to Grand Bahama and its economy, as well as to the nation, and they are working diligently and when they get to a point, an announcement will be made.”
Questioned on the status of the Grand Bahama International Airport, the Deputy Prime Minister said they are about to begin demolition. “There are very complex agreements that are currently being prepared. The lawyers are working diligently.”
With a foreign lender, a foreign airport manager and a consortium of five entities that make up the local partners, there are a number of agreements being made. Consultants are currently working on the ground, and the Deputy Prime Minister said he will meet with them next Tuesday to view the designs.
“The reality is that the work has continued since we entered the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) in March. The process is we entered the MOU, we are now completing the full set of legal agreements and designs. We’re going to begin the demolition work shortly. Renovation of the Air Traffic Control Tower is going to begin first and then we’ll go into full scale construction.”
The 2025 deadline for the completion of the airport, is still in place with all parties committed.
Deputy Prime Minister Cooper then turned his attention to airlift to the island stating that they have been “very deliberate and very focused” having engaged Bahamasair for flights from Raleigh, North Carolina; and Sunwing. It is hoped that these flights can become year-round.
With Sunwing recently acquired by WestJet, he said, “this is going to be an overall positive for The Bahamas and Grand Bahama. WestJet has always been a good partner with direct services from Toronto and Montreal, as well as Calgary.” They are currently working to get more airlift to Grand Bahama.
Other airlines include Frontier, Silver and Bahamasair for the possibility of additional routes. For more airlift, he said, they are also speaking with Air Canada which flies from Charlotte and Miami.
“The challenge on the island at the moment is the number of hotel rooms and we’re hoping we can get Breakers Cay open in a short period of time to support the airlift.
“Suffice to say, all of our airline partners are standing by and they are ready to support the island of Grand Bahama. The product is strong, our overall numbers is just 96 percent of 2019, only four percent behind 2019 let’s put it that way; our cruise numbers are up 188 percent compared to 2019.
“So, Grand Bahama is on the move. There’s excitement about the product. People now realize there is a significant level of things to do in East End and West End, and of course in Freeport, and this is attracting a significant level of interest from stakeholders and, potentially, new partners,” he said.
Additionally, the government will make a statement on the $300 million development in West Grand Bahama and it is expected that more information will be forthcoming in the coming weeks.
When asked about commercial banks going into the Family Islands that currently have no banks, the Deputy Prime Minister said the issue has been a concern of the government for some time. As the large Canadian banks have been withdrawing from the islands, the money transfer agencies have been engaged to work with existing banks to provide the service.
“I anticipate the bank involved is going to make an announcement soon in relation to Exuma and Long Island mission; and we hope that as a result of the successful implementation of these plans in Exuma and Long Island, that other islands will benefit in due course,” he said.
BAIC Facilitates First-Ever Perfume-Making Workshop
By BETTY VEDRINE, BIS
#NASSAU, The Bahamas, May 23, 2023 – The Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC), has made a significant step in its quest to expand and innovate the industrial sector and offer Bahamians another avenue for entrepreneurship.
On Wednesday, 18th May, the corporation took a leap into the unknown but exciting world of perfume-making when a workshop was facilitated at their headquarters on Old Trail Road.
The one-day workshop brought together artisans and craftspersons from the world of essential oil production, candle-making, aromatherapy and other crafts. Bringing his expertise to The Bahamas, world-renowned perfume maker and skincare specialist, Edwin Bruce, facilitated the event. Executive Chairman of BAIC, Leroy Major, called the workshop a ‘groundbreaking’ event for the country.
“The perfume industry is a $38.2 billion one that The Bahamas has not tapped into and so after doing some research and finding out that castor oil, which is produced locally, is a component of perfume, we decided to try our hand at perfume making,” he said.
“We invited Mr. Bruce, out of Jamaica, to assist us as he is well-versed in this area. We plan to also facilitate workshops in some of the other islands shortly.”
Mr. Bruce said he was elated to share his knowledge with the Bahamian people given his affection for the country.
During the three-hour event, participants learned about the various layers of scent, the use of raw materials for scents, how to blend scents, the philosophy and olfactory psychology and also the language behind scents. At the end of the workshop, participants were able to compose and bottle their own personalized fragrances.
(BIS Photos/Betty Vedrine)
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