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Report warns of Bimini tourism impact

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Oct 25, 2013

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While indicating that the impact of tourism is anticipated to be high as a result of a Resorts World project in Bimini, an environmental impact assessment (EIA) warns of the potential negative impact that could result from uncontrolled growth in tourism.

"The increased visitors will result in undesirable activities becoming more regular, including gambling, taking loans, crimes and money laundering," said the October 2 report, which was recently released on the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology (BEST) Commission’s website.

The study, prepared by Blue Engineering, assesses the likely environmental impacts of the construction, operation and maintenance of a new ferry terminal for the Resorts World Bimini SuperFast ferry.

In the social impact aspect of the report, it is noted that "tourism can be both a source of international amity, peace and understanding and a destroyer and corrupter of indigenous cultures, a source of ecological destruction, an assault of people’s privacy, dignity and authenticity.”

The report said the overall impact of tourism is anticipated to be high, both positive and negative, and long-term in duration and will be the cause of a number of negative impacts, some of which warrant further investigation.

According to the report, the project may potentially introduce an additional 570,000 tourists per year to Bimini – a factor of 11 more than the number of tourists currently visiting Bimini – and thereby boost the local economy and employment.

“Bimini is likely to be passively ruled by tourism. Therefore, it needs community development, which is a process and a capacity to make decisions that consider the long-term economy, ecology and equity of all communities,” the report said. “Community development is one of the core elements of sustainable development.”

Several months ago, during the opening of the Resorts World Casino, Prime Minister Perry Christie assured that the government was preparing a master plan to guide the “orderly development and growth of North and South Bimini for the foreseeable future”.

Christie said there will be significant upgrades to the island's infrastructure.

The report also “highly recommended” that a town meeting be held to introduce and explain the project and provide assistance to those people when needed and to further distribute and collect questionnaires.

The project will include dredging of 220,000 cubic yards of material which will be utilized in the construction of a new 4.5 acre island connected to the shore by a 1,000-foot long piled pier.

The island will provide berthing facilities for one 650-foot long vessel in two alternative berthing arrangements, one 300-foot long mega yacht and two 200 to 250-foot long mega-yachts as well as customs and immigration offices, a beach club and a turning area for trams. The project is intended to accommodate a 650-foot long ferry service between Miami and Bimini.

Christie said the project is expected to result in the creation of hundreds of jobs.

The Bimini SuperFast and the Resorts World Casino were commissioned in June.

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