“It’s way out of scale for this little island,” he said. “Although they say they’re being ecologically competent, nobody has any access to their methods and without that, we can’t evaluate it.”
Rafael Reyes, president of RAV Bahamas Ltd. — developer of Bimini Bay and partner with Genting in the cruiseport — said critics’ concerns are unfounded.
“What brought us here is the environment,” Reyes said. “We don’t want to be in a position where we adversely affect any of the natural resources the Bahamas has to offer. These resources are what we are marketing to our clients. It doesn’t make sense to market something and then harm it.”
Reyes says his company has invested more than $150 million in Bimini, with plans to build a 350-room hotel and improve the small airport on South Bimini, along with local roads and other infrastructure. He said a golf course proposed years ago is now off the table. His aim is to make the small island — which now teems with tourists in the summer but is mostly deserted in winter — a year-round destination.
“People in the community want things to get better like we do,” Reyes said. “They want to sell more Bimini bread and more conch.”
Edith Romer, owner of Edith’s Pizza, believes she’ll sell more of her tasty lobster pies to visitors coming through the cruiseport.
“I think it will be better for business,” Romer said. “I’m sure I’ll get people from it. I don’t think it’s going to ruin the island. A lot of tourists that used to come here a long time ago don’t like it. It’s not the same Bimini they’re used to. But things change, you know. We just have to embrace it, you know.”