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Insight: Disney’S Plan ‘No Cause For Alarm’

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Jeff Vahle

By Jeff Vahle

President,

Disney Cruise Line

The people of Eleuthera are truly one of a kind.

During my recent trip to the island, we stopped in Bannerman Town on the way to Lighthouse Point. Under a Poinciana tree, a few people were gathered and we walked over to introduce ourselves. We were invited to sit and talk and against the backdrop of the most beautiful island day, we talked of Eleuthera and its unique history.

The crowd grew and there were lots of questions about the project Disney would like to bring to the island. I am sure there were a few sceptics about our true intentions, especially given what some people and groups are saying. Sceptics or not, people talked and they stopped to listen.

We are humbled by the warm welcome that Eleutherans have shown us and for the strong support we have received for our proposed project from so many on the island.

The history between Disney and The Bahamas is a long one, 20 years in fact. And it is a relationship that benefits us both in some important ways – from the $40m we contribute directly to the economy each year to the 150 quality employment opportunities we provide for Bahamians to the nearly $3m we have invested in environmental conservation programmes.

In turn, the beauty and hospitality of The Bahamas has contributed to our success. Seventy-five percent of our cruises visit here each year to the enjoyment of countless families. It is only natural we would first invite The Bahamas to be part of our expansion plans – plans that will also increase visits to New Providence.

In Eleuthera, we plan to give our guests the opportunity to relax, spend time with family and to explore the stories of this special place. While the previously approved development for this property included plans for hundreds of homes, condominiums, villas, a hotel and 140-slip marina constructed in the salt ponds, what Disney wants to do is different. Very different. In fact, our development is designed to have as little impact as possible on the natural environment.

Simply put, we want to work with The Bahamas to create an international destination that protects and sustains the natural beauty of this historic location; that creates quality jobs and opportunity for Bahamians; that celebrates the culture, and that strengthens the community in Eleuthera.

From an environmental perspective, we are absolutely committed to doing the right thing – and would never risk the natural beauty of Eleuthera or our long-standing commitment in this space by doing otherwise.

What has often been forgotten in discussions about our plans is that the property is privately owned and has been on the market for quite some time. We are committed to giving more than 170 acres of what is currently privately-owned land to the Government for conservation. We also plan to preserve the more than 100 acres of salt ponds on the property.

This focus on conservation means only approximately 20 percent of the property will be developed, much of it for low-density use like the placement of beach chairs and umbrellas and the creation of small support structures for things like restrooms, shops and dining. We have no plans to develop the southern-most point of the property or to allow our Disney guests to visit it.

Furthermore, we will use sustainable design and building practices for the areas we do intend to develop. For example, current plans include the construction of an open-trestle pier that would have a much smaller footprint and impact on natural ocean currents than a traditional pier design and that requires minimal, if any, dredging. We also intend to use solar power for much of our operation.

In addition to providing full access to the property for Bahamians, our plan will create 120 to 150 permanent, quality employment opportunities, encompassing a breadth of disciplines, as well as management positions and opportunities for career advancement.

At our other Disney destination, Castaway Cay, the current average wage is more than 50 percent higher than the Bahamian minimum wage and employees receive health benefits and work full-time schedules with the opportunity for overtime. With guests expected to be in port three to five days per week year-round and the need to complete a variety of projects on non-port days, these roles will provide much needed employment stability.

Beyond these employment opportunities, hundreds of indirect jobs will be created, along with positive economic impact through construction, port adventures hosted by Bahamians showcasing Eleuthera’s unique sites, opportunities for the sale of Bahamian goods, and relationships with Bahamian vendors and other partners.

Finally, I want to stress our commitment goes beyond our plans for this property. As in all the communities in which we do business, we will work to strengthen the settlements in Eleuthera, with a special focus on children and families. We also will work with Government and community partners to maintain and restore significant historical and cultural sites and integrate Bahamian voices and artistic expression into the design. Together, we will make sure it is rooted in the same kind of Bahamian stories and traditions I learned about during my recent visit.

It is because of this broader commitment to Eleuthera and to The Bahamas that I believe we will find common ground with those who question our plans. But, we can only find that common ground when we use facts as the basis for dialogue.

We have never been more committed to The Bahamas and its people, and we hope our proposal for Eleuthera will become a model for sustainable development. In the meantime, we remain open and willing to talk, especially if we can meet under a Poinciana tree in Bannerman Town.

Comments

TheMadHatter 2 years, 3 months ago

"At our other Disney destination, Castaway Cay, the current average wage is more than 50 percent higher than the Bahamian minimum wage..."

Nothing + 50% of nothing = nothing

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Veritas242 2 years, 3 months ago

Allow it. Support it so they wish to expand. Disney built the city of Orlando. Let them anchor us building another city. Nassau is too crowded.

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DDK 2 years, 3 months ago

GO AWAY! DON'T YOU OWN ENOUGH ALREADY?

1 Corporate 2 The Walt Disney Studios 2.1 Production 2.1.1 Animation 2.1.2 Lucasfilm Ltd. 2.1.3 Marvel Studios

2.2 Distribution 2.3 Disney Music Group 2.4 Disney Theatrical Group 2.5 Disney Studio Services

3 Walt Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products 3.1 Disney Retail 3.2 Disney Games and Interactive Experiences 3.3 DCPI Content 3.3.1 Disney Publishing Worldwide

3.4 Parks and resort 3.4.1 Disneyland Resort 3.4.2 Walt Disney World Resort 3.4.3 Disneyland Paris 3.4.4 Hong Kong International Theme Parks 3.4.5 Shanghai Disney Resort 3.4.6 Disney Signature Experiences

4 Disney Media Networks 4.1 Disney–ABC Television Group 4.1.1 A&E Networks 4.1.2 ABC Entertainment Group 4.1.3 ABC Family Worldwide 4.1.4 ABC Owned Television Stations 4.1.5 Disney Channels US

4.2 ESPN Inc.

5 Marvel Entertainment 6 Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International 6.1 Germany 6.2 Walt Disney Co., Ltd. Japan 6.3 The Walt Disney Company (India) Private Limited 6.4 The Walt Disney Company Iberia S.L.

7 Other 7.1 Property holding companies 7.2 Financial 7.3 Venture capital 7.3.1 Chinese holdings

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BahamaPundit 2 years, 3 months ago

Disney is dope. Approve immediately. Eleuthera is dead. Do the deal and get on with it. Great counter to China threat.

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BahamaPundit 2 years, 3 months ago

This is such a no brainer makes me want to scream to be around fools that would question this. Only issue is if dDisney stops coming to Nassau and starts its own cruise ship port to compete with New Providence. To counter this, put a non compete with Nassau clause in the Agreement.

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BahamaPundit 2 years, 3 months ago

No other cruiseship should be allowed to dock there. Government should own 35% of equity. Environment bond etc.

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TheMadHatter 2 years, 3 months ago

I actually support Disney investing in Eleuthera. Was just poking fun at our ignorant minimum wage.

At the same time Govt needs to put a moratorium on any new business with China and any new Chinese work permits. Not really a big deal though. Trump's dealing with them. They will soon have to recall their army to protect the mainland.

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Ma Comrades,'governance' does derives, ultimately, from the Greek verb ... be of 35 da elected or of any size; and they may function for any family for, good or evil, for profit or not. ...Be thy own judge whats been happening since 10 May 2017.... pretty difficult tell when the three first major deals - VAT, OBAN, Lucayan Hotel - have all been cloaked secret processes. The secretive glass must be broken on this group 35's governance.

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Alex_Charles 2 years, 3 months ago

Do a deal where local community gets training (for free), Disney is to work on technology/skill sharing with the University of the Bahamas AND Disney should add to the power grid of Eleuthera. Also, VAT should be charged at the POS. We need to end the practice of exempting tourists at the border. If more people pay into it, then the more government revenue and the increased likelihood that we can decrease the current 12% tax rate.

Other than that, I see no problem with this project, unless they conduct themselves similar to the PRC.

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Clamshell 2 years, 3 months ago

Where do you get the idea that tourists are exempt from VAT? We hosted our kids and grandkids for a vacation at Atlantis, paid VAT on every penny we spent.

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DDK 2 years, 3 months ago

"Cruise ships do pose some additional environmental risks compared with other vessels. That's because a large cruise carries thousands of passengers, each of whom produces a personal waste stream that can end up in the ocean. (For comparison, a typical freighter might be staffed by a dozen or so crewmembers.) In a recent EPA survey of boats operating in Alaska, cruise ships reported generating an average of 21,000 gallons of sewage a day. Those ships also produced a daily average of 170,000 gallons of graywater—the stuff that drains from sinks, showers, and laundry machines. Graywater can contain detergents, oil, grease, and food waste as well as oxygen-depleting nutrients and various pathogens."

"A complicated patchwork of federal, state, and international laws governs what cruise ships can discharge and where. Sewage, for example, needs to be treated if it's going to be flushed out within three miles of U.S. coastlines, though beyond that, it can be dumped in its raw state."

WHAT WE GOING TO DO WITH ALL THAT?

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DDK 2 years, 3 months ago

"Disney and other cruise holiday operators are trying to clean up their acts and make cruising a greener holiday choice. But why aren’t they being more transparent about it?"

"Those selling cruise holidays promise pristine waters, cloudless skies and sunny ports of call. Environmentally speaking, however, ocean travel can be a dicey proposition: every year, the industry consumes millions of tons of fuel and produces almost a billion tons of sewage. If insufficiently treated, exhaust and sewage from ships can fog the air and pollute the water, potentially causing a host of ugly environmental and health effects that undermine the very natural beauty that cruise ships advertise to potential travelers."....BRUCE WATSON

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

If any ma comrades decide makes trip to the island, and if you should decide make stop in Bannerman Town - on the way to Lighthouse Point, and you comes across few the cheerful native islanders who be sitting under a Poinciana tree - they be first tells you that if you is the Imperial red shirts cabinet and you wants 'hide' some important contractual details to enable the signing over over Exclusive Rights to use Lighthouse Point to foreign man's - just write what you want 'hide' into Heads Of Agreement (HOA) - then stand up on floor People's House of Assembly - pretending it's real HOA that the PMO actually executed before the media's camera. What you won't read HOF, is that when sign over Lighthouse Point to an absentee foreigner - he will become Landlord over island that will chiefly remain 'empty warm tourists bodies' - excepting when cruise ships captains does find it beneficial they owners bank account - to make a couple hours island stopover. { Can't make this up }. .

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becks 2 years, 3 months ago

Anybody else notice on the Disney map how Bahamians lose ALL access to the whole of the point and lose all access to the best part of the beaches? As far as Castaway Cay...how many Bahamians are employed full time there and in what kind of jobs??? And if these cruise-ports are so great for the Bahamas can any Bahamian actually show all the great economic improvements that have happened in the Berry Islands or Castaway Cay or at Princess Cay in Eleuthera since these cruise lines built them 10, 20 and 30 years ago? Go on...We are waiting.

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bcitizen 2 years, 3 months ago

Yep I noticed that too and I can bet you they will be severely discouraged and/or prevented from walking along the beach to the point. Time and time again I have seen developments build with the promise of public access points only to create barriers and hindrances to discourage their use. The economic benefits from the private cruise islands etc. are minimal. If it must be developed try and find a land based developer would give more bang for developing such a beautiful place.

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Who is foreigner comrade holding possession title the island, and what is Seller's asking price... will Disney be exempt likes the Seller Lucayan Hotel was made be released from paying any and all axes into PeoplesPublicPurse..... has Minnis and KP, done signed Letter Of intent (LOI) with Disney?

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Update: Just got call from comrade realtor friend and told 700 acre Lighthouse Point is being advertised by a Real Estate Agency, for $ 20 million.

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Clamshell 2 years, 3 months ago

It’s been on the market for years. Anybody who knows how to use a computer could find that real estate listing in about 90 seconds. Hardly a secret. Price was once as high as $27 million.

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realitycheck242 2 years, 3 months ago

I could just imagine signs along the white line boundry lines with twelve feet high chain link fences saying NO NON CRUISE SHIP PASSENGERS ALLOWED. Wake up Bahamians we cant continue to sell our birthright for little bowls of soup. Lets put a stop to this madness and not let this happen.

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TheMadHatter 2 years, 3 months ago

Realitycheck242 - you have a great point, HOWEVER, Bahamians constantly need more little bowls of soup because they keep making more little bundles of joy (every nine months).

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truetruebahamian 2 years, 3 months ago

WE ELEUTHERANS DO NOT WANT YOU, DISNEY! A few people who lack brain power to realise their loss and how you operate say that they speak for all of us. THEY DO NOT! My family who built the country since 1640 is not going to let it all go to some american rats.

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BahamaPundit 2 years, 3 months ago

You idiots want to throw out Disney but keep the Chinese. Are you insane? The majority of you never even went to this property or cared about it until now. It's a private property. The seller has the right to chose who he wants to sell it to. There should be some stipulations like right for Bahamians to use facility and beaches and Disney cannot use this port for other Cruise lines. Other than that, it would be insane not to go forward.

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becks 2 years, 3 months ago

False equivalency.....I’m not a big fan of them but the Chinese investments are not only government sanctioned and in partnership with government in some cases but far surpass anything Disney is proposing...plus the Chinese investments do employ hundreds upon hundreds of Bahamians. Disney at best will employ a few Bahamians in basic construction jobs for a few months and a few others in menial toilet-cleaning jobs while at the same time closing off more beaches to Bahamians and destroying one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the Bahamas. No comparison at all.

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Ma Comrade BahamaPundit, only the dead have lost their right now see Lighthouse Point Cay through a different lens.

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