American actor Robert De Niro’s plans to build a $250m resort and casino on nearly 400 acres of undeveloped land on the Caribbean island of Barbuda is facing local opposition.
Supported by Australian billionaire James Packer, De Niro hopes to construct a five-star hotel, eco-lodge, marina, casino and an airport.
The Antigua and Barbuda government passed a bill on November 18, in the process granting De Niro and Packer a 25-year tax holiday in exchange for developing the project.
Despite the promise of “hundreds of jobs” for local people, a contingent in the Caribbean nation is far from happy about the plans. Senate minority leader Harold Lovell, who voted against the bill, said that the move impinges on the rights of the elected Barbuda Council to “consider and approve” large-scale property deals on the island.
Antigua and Barbuda prime minister Gaston Browne backs the project, however. “We respect their right to protest, and similarly they ought to respect our right to attract good, sound, tangible investments that grow the economy and put people back to work,” he said.