During the series of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and Disney media announcements that comprised the most recent TWDC annual shareholder meeting, company CEO Bob Iger noted that Disney Cruise Line would soon be adding a new destination in the Bahamas along with the debut of DCL's three newest vessels. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the purchase of that property — the Lighthouse Point area on the island of Eleuthera — has just been made official and development should begin in the near future.
The project had previously been scrutinized over possible environmental effects to the pristine natural beach, but the local economic council voted to approve the deal last year. Disney Cruise Line president Jeff Vahle said of their agreement with the Bahamian government,
We are pleased to have finalized an agreement with the government of the Bahamas that will enable us to create new and sustainable economic opportunities for the people of Eleuthera while celebrating the natural beauty and culture of this special place with our guests. Over the past few months, we’ve spent time in Eleuthera exploring its unique sites and culture, continuing to build relationships with current and future business owners who have an interest in working with us and supporting philanthropic initiatives that benefit children and families.
We have also been focused on the field work necessary for completing a comprehensive environmental impact assessment and management plan. We expect to complete this work over the next few months in close consultation with the government.
That impact assessment and management plan must be completed before work can begin on the land.
While the property Disney Cruise Line is set to develop totals 700 acres, Disney will donate a 190-acre plot to the government which will be turned into a national park. The donated land has a value of $6.29 million, while Disney's total investment in Lighthouse Point will be between $250 and $400 million.
Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced the deal's completion in a statement this weekend, saying,
The government of the Bahamas is satisfied that it made the best decision in the interest of the Bahamian people, a sustainable future for the people of Central and South Eleuthera and the economic development of the country. The implementation of this project supports the government’s plan of expanding the economy of our country and economic opportunities for our people by promoting development in the Family Islands.
Lighthouse Point won't only be open to Disney Cruise Line guests; the area will be free for local residents to access as well.
While construction is ongoing, the Lighthouse Point project is set to employ an 80% Bahamian workforce, with at least 120 jobs filled by qualified locals. 150 permanent jobs with health benefits are expected to be created once the the area is officially open. The cruise line's Bahamian workers will also be able to take advantage of entrepreneurial training while employed.
As for Bahamians not employed by Disney, the agreement stipulates that space must be allowed for local vendors to sell souvenirs and other goods, and Bahamian owners will get priority for port adventures and entertainment. The agreement also states that Disney will engage in efforts to have a positive impact on the local community, working to increase the quality of schools, medical care, and cultural locations.
Part of the agreement requires DCL to up its traffic to Nassau and Freeport by 30 to 40 percent. The new Bahamas port is expected to receive 3 to 5 ship visits per week, on the same level as Disney's private island in the area, Castaway Cay.
The current timeline for Lighthouse Point to be operational is somewhere between 2021 and 2023. This window coincides with the release schedule of DCL's newest ships, which will be taking their maiden voyages in 2021, 2022, and 2023.
Source: Orlando Sentinel
Image: Nassau Guardian
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