…hundreds of jobs to be created
By Lisa Hamilton
AS Guyana heads into an era of unprecedented development, the country expects a sharp increase in visitors for several reasons and the AC Marriot, state-of-the-art hotel, set to begin construction next month, will meet the growing need for accommodation.
On Thursday, at a simple sod turning ceremony for the US$75M project just off the Ogle Airstrip Main Road, Minister of Business, Haimraj Rajkumar, voiced these sentiments. “The coming to Guyana of AC Marriott is a development that the Ministry of Business is applauding. From an investment standpoint, the US$75M project is evidence of an increased investor confidence in Guyana as a viable place for investment,” the minister said.
“From a tourism standpoint, the AC Marriott Hotel will add number and quality to our room stock, thereby boosting our accommodation capacity at a time when demand for quality accommodation has been on the rise.”
In 2019, Guyana experienced a 9.75 per cent increase in visitors with over 319,000 persons coming to the country which translated to a $6.2B increase in revenue to the country.
The Business Minister estimates that by 2025, an additional 200,000 persons will be coming to the country as it hosts more international conferences, generates greater business value and expands in the area of tourism.
The hotel project is collaboration between the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) and Trinuyana Investments Inc. of Guyana for a world-class, select service, internationally-branded hotel set to create hundreds of permanent jobs for Guyanese. Rajkumar gave Trinuyana Investments the government’s best wishes and thanked them for choosing Guyana for their investment.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NICIL, Colvin Heath-London, said that the sod turning is merely a foretaste of the bountiful “harvests” ahead for Guyana. He said the negotiations to settle the deal were robust but fair to both parties and he is confident that with years of experience in the business, Trinuyana Investments will lead the project to success. “At today’s ceremony, we turn the sod; in the near future we will turn the keys for the entrance into the grand glorious ‘garden’ to be nurtured here, then we will follow years of reaping in joy,” he told the gathering.
Added to this, Head of the Business Development Unit at NICIL, Rachel Henry, has noted that the hotel will add 150 rooms to the local hotel stock in Guyana; 20,000 square feet of office and retail space; will facilitate skills transfer between Guyana and Trinidad and will spark a robust boost in local employment. Also addressing the audience was President of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA), Clinton Williams, who said that the US$75M project is consistent with the positive growth witnessed in Guyana over the past five years or so.
He posited that the tourism sector can assume a dominant position in Guyana as the country transforms itself into a ‘green’ state but to do so, transportation and hotel accommodation remain key elements. “We welcome this initiative, this particular project and it is our considered view that it will significantly contribute to the development of the vibrant tourism sector with forward and backward linkages not only to the emerging oil and gas sector, but also to the development of other tourism products such as nature and agriculture-based tourism,” he said.
The company is headed by Trinidadian, John Aboud, who told the audience that he is proud to have led a group of investors which has had a long and successful career in real estate development and management, stretching from North America, to the Caribbean and now South America.
He said that the group of investors has, together, developed over two million square feet of real estate with experience ranging in areas such as office buildings, retail shopping malls, industrial parks and special purpose buildings. “As investors or developers, we are always on the lookout for investment and development opportunities and it was not difficult to identify Guyana as a country that has infinite possibilities into the future not only because of your recent good fortune in oil and gas, but the tremendous opportunities this will provide to Guyana in developing the vast natural resources be it in mining, agriculture or tourism,” he said.
Aboud informed the gathering that Trinuyana Investments is committed to making a worthwhile economic and social contribution to Guyana and in all of its construction jobs it hopes to employ Guyanese nationals either directly or through Guyanese contractors and sub-contractors. “In the operation phase, with the exception of perhaps five people, all the employees will be Guyanese nationals,” he assured.
The sale of the land – formerly owned by the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and vested to NICIL in 2017 – was made to Trinuyana Investments at over GYD$26M per acre. It was sold at a higher cost than its valuation. Heath-London added: “Their company… is listed on the Trinidad stock exchange and this development in the future will be added to that stock and Guyanese will be given opportunities to invest via buying shares in the company.”
Meanwhile, Guyana can expect a similar ceremony next week for another state-of-the-art hotel to be built in Guyana at the same Ogle location set to create 300 temporary jobs and 175 permanent jobs.
With NICIL’s support, a modern cold storage facility will also be opened at the former Wales Sugar Estate as government continues its programme of diversifying the sector and providing jobs for workers who were laid-off as a result. Heath-London acknowledged the “sterling leadership” of Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, for entrusting NICIL with the responsibility of spearheading the monumental projects.
It is expected that construction will begin in March 2020, while the project should be completed in less than 30 months. It is anticipated that the pending highway to run from Timehri to Ogle will boost ease of transportation to the hotel.