Atlantis’ Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Special Projects Vaughn Roberts told Guardian Business yesterday that Atlantis resort will reserve its comments on Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI) beach club project for its public consultation meeting, scheduled for June 8 at Queen’s College.
Roberts said Atlantis’ management has seen Royal Caribbean’s public consultation report, released on Friday.
Atlantis has been one of the biggest dejectors of RCI’s proposed Royal Beach Club, slated for the western end of Paradise Island.
Roberts is quoted in the report asking a series of questions about the project, including questions related to possible environmental challenges.
The report was compiled following a September 2021 public consultation, and addresses questions submitted via town hall meetings, emails and letters. Participants included local environmental activists, tourism stakeholders and the general public.
Many have voiced concerns about the environmental impact the $100 million project will have on what local activists have described as the last remaining pristine tract of publicly held land on Paradise Island.
Roberts asked via email: “RCCL [Royal Caribbean Cruise Line] has had a history of discharging oil, toxic waste and falsifying records. What protections or commitments can be put in place in respect of this project?”
In response, RCI said, “No one’s history is perfect, but over 30 years ago, we took a stance and began our Save the Waves program. Since then, Royal Caribbean has a formidable environmental record for consistently going above and beyond the environmental regulations put in place by various authorities around the world.
“Royal Caribbean Group has been recognized for the last eight years as one of the 2023 World’s Most Ethical Companies and the only honoree in the leisure and recreation industry.
“As part of our development, we are committed to certifying the Royal Beach Club under the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) destination criteria. Lastly, an independent environmental monitor will oversee all construction and operational practices and generate a publicly available environmental report card.”
Atlantis President and Managing Director Audrey Oswell has publicly voiced concerns about the project, and has urged employees at the resort to take a stand on the proposed project if they also had concerns.
It prompted an investigation by the Department of Labour.
RCI’s yet-to-be-released environmental management plan pledges to build responsibly as well as to include zero waste-to-landfill, renewable energy, wastewater treatment, protection and enhancement of the surrounding habitats, and environmental monitoring.