Port Lucaya straw vendors, yesterday, raised concerns over tourists not being able to utilize the beach access near the Port Lucaya Police Station, because the opening’s gate was chained and locked.
The vendors, led by president of the Port Lucaya Straw Vendors (PLSV) Gloria McPhee, held a press conference Thursday (October 18) morning, voicing their disagreement with the action taken.
McPhee noted that with vendors already struggling to make ends meet and in “dire need of help,” closing the access not only denies tourists the ability to swim and enjoy the beautiful sea, sand and sun, but it further dampens the business for vendors.
Claiming that she was not informed of the closure, McPhee said that she was surprised by the decision.
When the team from this daily visited the access, it was confirmed that the gate leading to the beach was chained and locked; however, a public notice was also in place on the gate. It read, “Due to beach erosion, this beach access is temporarily closed until further notice! Management.
Questioned if she knew of the beach erosion, McPhee said, while she did not agree with tourists visiting the beach if it is, “very bad,” having them on site helped bring in income.
Maintaining that she met with tourism officials in an attempt for contact to be made with a local government official to at least open up a beach access, McPhee said to date there has been no response in the matter.
“Since the hotel was bought by the government I’d like to see an effort being made. When the hotel was sold a few years ago, the buyer never made provisions for the tourists to properly visit the beach, now there is nothing.”
The president claimed that there is no advertisement for Port Lucaya being a beach destination and all the tourists are going to Taino Beach.
“Government needs to step in and give beach access. The people in Port Lucaya are dying and there is no business. We need the beach access to be open, this government is for the people and the people are asking now to use the access,” McPhee stated.
PLSV Vice President, Ena Cooper, who shared similar views on the closure of the beach access also questioned, “What else?”
While describing the vendors as “survivors,” Cooper feels as though there are solutions to this problem. “If the government doesn’t assist in opening the beach access, the outcome may put the workers of Port Lucaya out of a job. The restaurants may survive because of the night life, but everything else that depends on the tourists may close.”
Also lending support to the vendors’ plight was Harold Curry, president of the Grand Bahama Taxi Union (GBTU).
Curry does agree that the closing of the beach access was an intelligent move (as it is in a bad state), but he hopes the government will step in and “create new avenues for them to survive off.”
He said that the union understands that the beach access is closed, because of the erosion and it isn’t safe for tourists, “but they’re really focusing on opening the middle section (located behind the casino).
“The beach in the back of the casino is very beautiful and if government can assist in opening up the area to be accessed, that would be very helpful,” said Curry.
Through further investigation, this daily spoke with a security officer on property, who confirmed that the access was closed as a result of beach erosion.
The Freeport News also came into possession of photos that showed the conditions of the once beautiful beach area.