Christie: Be careful on favouring cruise lines

FORMER Prime Minister Perry Christie.
Photo: Austin Fernander

FORMER Prime Minister Perry Christie. Photo: Austin Fernander

By Earyel Bowleg

Tribune Staff Reporter


FORMER Prime Minister Perry Christie said there should be a “New Providence experience” – and that “we have to exercise the greatest care” in being partial to a cruise line.

Mr Christie answered a series of questions from The Tribune on Friday in relation to the approval by the government of Royal Caribbean’s $110m beach club resort project for Paradise Island.

Education Minister Glenys Hanna Martin recently said her views have not changed on Royal Caribbean International’s $110m project for Paradise Island. She said she did not support it during the Minnis administration and her opinion remains the same.

The former Prime Minister admitted he has shared his views on the subject with Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis.

He said: “One of the challenges I’ve always had with cruise lines is that I accepted their argument that they needed a destination within The Bahamas where they could put a special experience in place. In the case of Royal Caribbean, that was done in the Berry Islands. I think they put a major investment there. I never saw that as important for New Providence.

“What was important for New Providence to me was not to be victim of the argument that people have very little to do because huge numbers are now coming through cruise ships but to improve the experience so that the greatest number of people are able to access the revenue that is available from cruise passengers as opposed to having a limited experience, peculiar to Royal Caribbean or any other cruise ship.”

He added: “So quite frankly, I’ve always been an advocate for widening the amount of people who people are exposed to. New Providence is a place where we have to do a much better job developing the experience of Bay Street. I mean, we tried and governments have tried and we’ve never somehow been able to put together a sustained approach to rehabilitating the environs of Bay Street and making it in itself a destination.”

He added: “We have places like Clifton that we have not integrated into the tourism mainstay, even though it is some distance. And I think the country has to continue to recognise that if we’re going to get the real value from cruise passengers that we must expose them as best we can to many more people than they are now exposed to, enabling therefore the revenue that comes from them to benefit more.”

“I’ve discussed the matter pf Royal Caribbean with the Prime Minister, I shared my views with him and I’m going to continue to look carefully at that, with a view to seeing whether my views are change.”

Asked if the prime minister was receptive, he answered: “I’m sure he listens to what I have to say on the matter but … he argues very strongly and persuasively that they have made many changes to the original position that led him to change his original position and what not.”

“As I said before we have to, with respect to New Providence, recognise that New Providence is a very special destination and we should have a New Providence experience, as opposed to a Carnival or Royal Caribbean experience.”

However, he appeared to be understanding when asked if he was disappointed that the Royal Caribbean project was continued.

“No, I have to leave governments to whatever they think is right for themselves. If I have the opportunity to express a view I will express a view and take it from there.”

While in opposition in 2021, Mrs Hanna Martin called the proposal “hare-brained”. She hit out at the Minnis administration for “kicking a Bahamian developer to the curb” in favour of the cruise line.

It was recently announced that the revised proposal was approved by the Davis administration, and Mr Davis said developers are expected to break ground “almost immediately”.

Mrs Hanna Martin did not pivot with her opinions when The Tribune pressed on her past objection.

When her comments were brought up, Mr Christie said she knows his views on these matters and that they were in government together.

He added: “The Prime Minister has a somewhat different job and difficulty - he has to balance a little bit more things than those of us who are outside now but having been Prime Minister let me just say again that we have to exercise the greatest care in having any policy that is partial to cruise line.”

Minister of Tourism Chester Cooper said regarding the Crown land being leased to RCI, the government plans to also convert this asset into an ownership stake in the development that would be held by the country’s sovereign wealth fund.

According to Mr Cooper, “the project will cover 17 acres – of which 13 acres represent privately held land and some four acres of Crown land that was included in the lease to RCI by the former administration”.

 Last week, Mr Davis addressed criticism of the government’s approval. He spoke to concerns such as ones from Save the Bays chairman Joseph Darville.

 Mr Darville questioned the environmental effects of the project. He had previously told The Tribune it is “undoubtable” the massive project will have a serious impact on marine life, coral reefs, and native animals that nest in the area.

 The chairman reflected on the fond memories of his youth which he experienced on the western end of Paradise Island, as it had a large population of wild hogfish, hence the name “Hog Island”.

 However, he questioned the intentions of the project, referring to “Hog Island” as a development solely situated around “big profits” and “cheaply won-votes”.

 But Mr Davis assured: “He has to understand what a deal is like. I mean, we ought to speak when we know all the facts. I will not be presiding over a decision that would lead to the consequences that he’s suggesting.

 “What he has to appreciate that RCL Royal Caribbean they already own several acres there – they’re developing on their own land. They’re asking for us to partner with them, with our land, to make the experience for the visitors more palatable and in that partnering the people of The Bahamas will not be left out.”


hrysippus 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Perhaps Christie should have been more careful in favoring gambling houses and people like Nygard? Luckily for the country he is now totally irrelevant.


birdiestrachan 2 months, 3 weeks ago

It made good sense for the Government to collect taxes from gambling , it existed for many years and it was not going any place persons who gambled in times past gamble still , Mr Christie had many visionary ideas university of the Bahamas BAMBSI, urbane renewal and the list goes on some will never be satisfied it is life, even the music festival


birdiestrachan 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Who sold that land to the cruise lines in the first place , they did not buy it for pretty the bought it to make money


TalRussell 2 months, 3 weeks ago

50 years on the other side of Independence ----- Hasn't erased from somes memories, --- How Paradise (Hog Island) Island was to become a Lighthouse of a deal,--- Made with Freeport's Wallace Groves and Sir Stafford Sands --- Handpicked mobsters, gangsters, hidden figures and front men, with the Bay Street Boys. --- Oddly so, --- the Lighthouse overlooking the entry point into Nassau Town's harbour. Oddly enough- she remains a beacon shining at greed. --- Yes?


ThisIsOurs 2 months, 3 weeks ago

" “What he has to appreciate that RCL Royal Caribbean they already own several acres there – they’re developing on their own land."

Where in The Bahamas can anyone other than Nygard (and the shanty town residents) do whatever they feel like on land that's "theirs"?


TalRussell 2 months, 3 weeks ago

After listening carefully to entrenched sources placed deeply within who are talking' like Comrade Toby Smith, done sensing that the premiership of "Brave" Davis --- Is siding alongside with the ruling of Sir Ian Winder, the chief justice, ---- That “regrettably” went against Comrade Toby Smith's hopes for a Paradise (Hog) Island beach deal, --- Hence why, starting tomorrow, --- Comrade Toby will be-taking to talking all his Hog Island beach business on the Guardian talk radio station. --- Yes?


BONEFISH 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Can the former prime minister Christie say what is the New Providence experience? There is increasing precious little for tourists to do outside the hotels and cruise ships.There is also the off shore islands like Blue Lagoon and Pearl island.

Go to the old city of Havana and the colonial zone in Santo Domingo. Compare that to downtown Nassau. A bahamian made this comment, on a cruise that stopped in Ocho Rios Jamaica,there is so much things to do onshore. there. Tourism in the Bahamas is going to be increasing challenged by other destinations in this region.


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