An abrupt decision by Kerzner International to crack down on unauthorised vendors operating at Cabbage Beach Thursday morning created outrage among some vendors who claimed they were being unfairly treated. The move also left many visitors scrambling for beach chairs and umbrellas.
The vendors claimed that when they were arrived at Cabbage Beach, they were told that those of them who were not in possession of a permit and other documentation would not be able to conduct their business.
Most operators said that were licenced to conduct business on the beach and they insisted that such an order has never been enforced.
Officers from the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) and security staff from Kerzner removed the operators’ beach chairs and umbrellas and gave vendors instructions not to set up shop on the beach.
Vendor Brenton Rolle said this sudden action by Kerzner will leave the livelihoods of many of the vendors in jeopardy.
“If they had planned to do something like this they could have at least told us,” he said. “There are nearly 200 men out here who make a living each day renting chairs and umbrellas to the tourists. So what exactly do they expect for us to do?”
The disruption on the beach yesterday also affected cruise ship visitors planning to spend some time at Cabbage Beach as many of them were forced to leave after they could not find chairs or umbrellas.
“My wife is pregnant and it’s just easier for her to sit on one of the chairs than to have her sit on a towel on the sand,” said ‘Steve,’ a visitor from Connecticut. “We don’t understand quite what’s going on here today, but it really does not seem to be a good thing for either the vendors or the tourists.”
“I hope that they could resolve these issues quickly because it’s a beautiful beach and it would be an even nicer experience if you can enjoy it without the struggle of searching for a beach chair,” ‘Rick,’ a visitor from Texas said.
Officials from Kerzner International said the decision to deny access to unauthorised vendors was made as a security measure and came a day after a violent incident occurred at the beach.
“Vendors have been warned repeatedly that they do not have permission to access for commercial purposes or operate on the areas of the beach which belong to us without our written authorisation,” Ed Fields, senior vice president of public affairs and retail services said. “The area above mean high-water mark is private property. While, we have been working to rectify the situation with these various agencies, regretfully yesterday [Wednesday], a violent altercation occurred between vendors, none of whom were authorised to operate on Cabbage Beach.”
“As a result of this incident, we determined to speed up our remedial action in the interest of maintaining a safe and recreational environment for both visitors and local beach goers and therefore took steps this morning along with the RBPF and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) to reestablish order on our beaches. Unauthorised umbrellas and beach chair vendors were asked to leave the beach, and their property was confiscated due to this trespass.”
Mr. Fields added that this action by Kerzner will not impact recreational beachgoers and he insisted that it is aimed at eradicating unauthorised commercial activity from private property and the negative impact it is having on beach goers.
He also noted that Atlantis will continue to work with law enforcement to ensure that law and order are restored at the beaches at its Paradise Island resorts.