Disney vs. Eleuthera?

Disney Fantasy at Castaway Cay

Planning a second private-island destination, Disney Cruise Line seems to have run into a snag with local opposition in the Bahamas.

A local non-profit group supported by Bahamian environmental groups has put forth a proposal for the same 750 acres on the southern point of Eleuthera.

According to Bahamian news sources, One Eleuthera Foundation is prepared to acquire the property to ensure that it, as a historical site, remains accessible to future generations of Bahamians. The foundation is reportedly seeking to develop the area into an ecotourism and research destination. They also claim that they will create more jobs and tourism revenue for the Bahamas than Disney will.

Disney has reportedly pledged that the area will remain fully open to all Bahamians and that it could create up to 150 local jobs.  Locals, however, are concerned that the jobs would go to Nassau-based tour operators and workers, as the tour operators in Eleuthera, for example, do not have the resources to upgrade their equipment or purchase the necessary insurance coverage.

Disney has taken its arguments to local newspapers with op-ed articles trying to convince Bahamians that its plans are the best. The company has one advantage: it is already said to have a sales contract to buy the land from a private developer, but must still get approval from the government before the land can change hands.  The sales price is said to be around $25 million.

Bahamians and locals that support Disney’s plans point to Castaway Cays as an example that the cruise line can create a tourist attraction that generates revenue and jobs for the community.

The opposition argues that Disney will block locals access to beaches and sites and that most of the revenue will go back to the company.

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