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Operators of jet skis claim they were told to leave beach

By JADE RUSSELL

Tribune Staff Reporter

jrussell@tribunemedia.net

ACCESS to the beach near the Melia Hotel has been restricted, prompting fear from some water sports operators as to how they will be able to continue their businesses.

A licensed jet ski operator told The Tribune yesterday that he, along with other operators, was told that the eastern end of the Melia beach would be closed to them. The operator claimed the decision came from Baha Mar and authorities.

 However, he said after being harassed by hotel security and police on the beach, eventually a “temporary solution” was arrived at.

 “We got a temporary solution until further notice and decision from officials from the port department, they sent word for us to work at an area that is suitable for us and still in walking‍ distance from the guests,” said the jet ski operator, who wished to remain anonymous.

 The experienced water sports operator of 25 years said the eastern end of the beach was never closed.

 “They come now to the eastern end of Melia where they want us to move and shut down,” he said.

 The operator said a meeting was held by Berne Wright, the acting port controller of the Port Authority, Berne Wright.

“They had a meeting without notice to the operators because I was not aware of it and many other operators weren’t aware of it. They had a meeting and came this morning and said the beach is shut down,” he said. “The Melia water park is about 50 feet away from the construction zone that is in full operation. Guests are still allowed to walk on the beach, still allowed to relax on the beach. Everything is in full operation except for the water sports operators.”

When asked if the water sports operators were conducting business on Melia’s property, he said “no” they were only operating from the water edge.

According to the law, all beaches in The Bahamas are considered public property from the water to the high water mark.

“By law, we have ten feet off the high water mark, so we operate just above that,” he said. “When the guests come down and they ask, we tell them we are nowhere affiliated with the hotel.”

The jet ski operator said it was “disrespectful” to be harassed by hotel security. He added the security even stopped the tourists from walking down to the operators.

“I think it’s unprofessional to us as business license owners who just came out of COVID - paying $1,000 for a licence to licence our jet ski, insure our jet skis, and paying national insurance and everything to get bullied and disrespected like that. Made us look like criminals on the beach with a policeman coming at us and the hotel security stopping the guests.”

Asked where operators were placed temporarily by officials, he said they are on the Baha Mar side of the beach now.

When The Tribune contacted Baha Mar, they said the access to the beach has been restricted.

“As the staged demolition of the Melia is progressing, access to the beach directly connected to the property has been restricted due to safety precautions. The Bahamas Port Authority has been notified and is managing the water sports operators in the area,” Baha Mar’s statement said.

In February 2021, the Melia Nassau Beach resort closed its doors for two years to undergo renovations.

However, in July, Baha Mar’s owner sought to completely demolish the former Melia Nassau Beach Resort before the 2023 winter tourism season started. The demolition came months after Baha Mar’s president, Graeme Davis, said plans to redevelop the Melia resort would be unveiled imminently.

Comments

themessenger 5 months, 3 weeks ago

If your association would police its members and rogue operators more efficiently and stop them for feeling up and raping the tourists you might generate a little more sympathy.

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BMW 5 months, 3 weeks ago

You hit the nail on the head!!!!!

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AnObserver 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Good. Nobody wants you around peddling drugs and raping tourists.

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Sickened 5 months, 3 weeks ago

No sympathy from me. They can sell their drugs, rape tourists and run over swimmers somewhere else.

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ScubaSteve 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Simple solution... absolutely NO jet ski's allowed. Done... problem solved.

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AnObserver 5 months, 3 weeks ago

But where are the tourists going to buy their coke? And why is going to smash in to snorkelers and swimmers?

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trueBahamian 5 months, 3 weeks ago

There have been problems with jet ski operators and there probably still are. But, let's assume that all.of them are not involved in illegal activity. With regards to the article, Baha Mar is clearly bullying them. To be certain at a later date they will try to ban them permanently.

We all know these major resorts are anti-Bahamian. So, let's not celebrate the bullying and the discrimination. If a jet ski operator has committed a crime there are laws that govern that. Baha Mar didn't say that incidents occurred there and they were taking action. This is simply the beginning of their banning them. There is a legalz fair process that exists to address this fairly to all.involved. Don't sit and simply criticize the jet ski operators. We sit back too often and watch apartheid like behavior go on in our country.

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rosiepi 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Your assumption that all operators “are not involved in illegal activity” is not supported by the facts, ie. the experience of Bahamians and tourists.

And isn’t a bully one who preys on the weak, the naive, and yet you use this term to describe those who regularly act outside the law with impunity? For we all know that the law is one thing in the Bahamas, but acting upon it? There’s the rub.

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themessenger 5 months, 3 weeks ago

If a jet ski operator has committed a crime there are laws that govern that. Really????

Tell that to the parents of the British toddler killed on Paradise beach by a careless jet ski operator, a jury of Bahamians closed ranks with an us vs them mentality and acquitted him. Tell that to the many female tourists who have been sexually molested or assaulted over the years only to be the recipients of Bahamian “Justice”. AKA justice denied!

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