KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb. 9, IWN — Over 1,000 Vincentians are employed under a US$300 million development project in Canouan, which Tourism Minister Cecil McKie says will be a selling point for this country’s tourism.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves on Friday led a delegation of government officials and media workers to the Southern Grenadine island on a tour of projects underway there.
They visited the US$150 million marina being build to accommodate 150 boats. Construction began last year and the marina is expected to become operational in 2014.
“It is really fantastic when one looks at what is happening here,” Director of Grenadine Affairs, Edwin Snagg said Friday on WE FM’s “Shake Up”.
“And I don’t think people, for instance on the mainland, would know the level of investment that is taking place currently here in Canouan,” added Snagg, who is from the Southern Grenadines.
McKie, who was also part of the delegation, said the development project was “mind-boggling and will bring a wow out of the viewer”.
“… this project is really immense in terms of its scope and we can only imagine the economic benefit that St. Vincent will derive from this.” McKie told the National Broadcasting Corporation.
He said the project will be a marketing tool “because … the more the outside world knows we have facilities like these in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the more they will be able to sell the tourism product of St Vincent and the Grenadines, and a few years from now, I expect we will see the numbers increasing even further.
“And, if you couple this with the Argyle international airport, we see that there are now prospects not only by sea. And the future of St. Vincent and the Grenadine is extremely bright,” McKie further said.
McKie comments about access by seas was in reference to the US$150 million marina, which will have villas with boats to be back. The EC$652 million airport at Argyle is scheduled to be completed by yearend.
And Snagg said the marina will also accommodate “super yachts and mega yachts”.
Snagg noted that the government has also invested in the development projects in Canouan.
“In terms of the level of equity that we have, you know that the Canouan Beach Hotel, government has put the lands in as equity in the project.
“Certainly, as more investment takes place, in terms of persons purchasing the villas and so on, obviously, your equity is probably going to begin to go down; but, you know government has a significant stake in the entire project,” he said.
Snagg highlighted the number of Vincentians employed on the island.
“… we currently have 1,050 Vincentians employed. That, to me, is real significant. There are about 700 persons involved in the construction only. And then you have about 350 person involved in the ancillary services…”
He said a further US$150 million in being invested in a hotel in Canouan.
“So, we are talking about a billion dollars in investment here. So, when I hear sometime they talk about there is no direct foreign investment in the country and all this sort of nonsense, one has to recognise that it is because of this investment in Canouan why we have growth in 2012. And because of what is taking place here, growth is going to continue in 2013,” Snagg said.
The Vincentian economy grew last year, after three years of decline.
Snagg described the hotel, which he said will replace Raffles Resort, as “totally magnificent”.
“You could imagine … that there is a room here that is 13,000 square feet. One room we are talking about that is 13,000 square feet — exquisitely furnished, to that particular level, with marble arching, with everything electronic. I mean, it is just phenomenal.
And, the Prime Minister described the marina as “top of the line”.
“As you know, that is a joint venture between the government and the developers. And, when that is completed, down at the other end, they are going to build about 18 top of the line houses, plus a lot of apartments so you are going to have another US$150 million investment in real estate,” he told NBC News.
A coast guard base is also being built in Canouan to which the U.S. government contributed US$1 million. The base is expected to be completed in June.
The team also included Minister of Health, Clayton Burgin, Minister of Housing Montgomery Daniel, Director of the Agency for Public Information, Jimmy Prince, Communication Consultant in the Office of the Prime Minister, Elson Crick, and Antonio Saladino, chair of Canouan Resorts Development — the developers.