Australia’s most iconic beach is considering a plan that may result in partial privatization.
The Amalfi Beach Club in Sydney has presented a proposal to create a roped-off, members-only section of famous Bondi Beach.
A representative from the Waverley Council, which oversees the area that Bondi is located in, tells CNN that the idea was originally pitched in May and was rejected for several reasons, including concerns about mixing alcohol and swimming and not wanting to block beach access during high season.
After that, the Amalfi Beach Club tried again. Their current proposal would turn a section of Bondi into a members-only club between the months of February and May 2021. “Council will liaise with the applicant following an assessment of the new proposal,” the representative said.
According to CNN affiliate 9 News, the Amalfi Beach Club – which is named for the popular region of Italy – wants to set up beachfront cabanas that will cost a fee to reserve. People who rent the cabanas would also be able to get food and drink service.
In a petition posted on their Facebook page, representatives for the project wrote, “Amalfi Beach Club is a commercial initiative to revive Bondi Beach, support local business and lift community morale following the COVID-19 crisis, which has decimated the local economy.”
Like so many other destinations around the world, Australia has felt the financial effects of the tourism industry’s collapse.
During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Bondi was completely closed in April 2020 as a measure to contain the disease’s spread. A rapid Covid-19 testing center was erected on the beach.
The Amalfi Beach Club petition notes that all its cabanas will be a socially-distanced two meters apart.
However, not everyone is a fan of the privatization proposal. Some opponents believe that separating off a section of the beach to only people who can afford to pay is undemocratic.
“This is the most disgracefully elitist and totally out of step with the community proposal I have ever seen,” one commenter wrote underneath the petition.
“Our beaches and parks are public open spaces, for the enjoyment of everyone,” the Waverley Council representative wrote in a statement.