If Buccament Bay Resort does not reopen by the end of the year, it will be a disappointment for Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves.
The resort, which has the largest number of rooms of any tourism facility in St. Vincent, has been closed since December 2016.
The resort was finally forced to close when its power supply was cut, after several weeks of protest by workers over the non-payment of wages.
“From the discussions which we had today, I will be disappointed if we don’t have Buccama opened by December. Now, it’s tight for all of us to work together but I think we can make it,” Gonsalves told a press conference in Kingstown on Thursday.
“You know you are writing a hard exam, you are preparing for it and you are confident that you are going to pass it and, therefore, if you don’t pass it, you feel disappointed?” Gonsalves said in contextualising his expectation.
“But you have to work hard for it. That’s the point I want to make. Because I don’t want anybody who never build anything in their life and who don’t understand anything to say, ‘Oh, Ralph says it’s opening in December.’ I am telling you what we are working towards.
“But the trustees in bankruptcy, the people who are going to get the operations to run, we have to all work together and the idea which they are presenting is to open 100 rooms first and to build it out.”
Gonsalves also used the opportunity to update the nation on a number of proposed tourism facilities across the country.
He said the US$65 million Black Sands Resort consisting of 40 villas at Mt Wynne is underway.
Projections are that the first 10 villas will be completed after the second half of next year and then work will begin on the 200-room hotel the next year, with an estimated completion date of the end of 2020.
“So that’s 400 rooms,” the prime minister said.
He said his government is also planning to build a tourism plant at Mt Wynne.
“… we have selected two groups of international architects,” he said, adding that one idea is to build a hotel that will be built on each side of the stream at Mt Wynne, and a higher level hotel of about 75 rooms on the ridge between both beaches.
To help finance this, the government has secured a soft loan from Taiwan.
“Of course, you can build villas higher up, because it is plenty land,” Gonsalves said.
He said that Invest SVG is talking to a firm about investing in the hotel on the ridge.
“Other people have expressed interest, but the hotel business, constructing it, you have to sift, make sure you get the right people and you have to make sure you do it properly.”
Gonsalves said this means US$65 million being invested by Black Sands, US$50 million by the government-owned hotel to be run by a brand.
“That’s a US$115 million investment in a small area geographically; over 300-and-something million Eastern Caribbean dollars. And the idea is to have these in construction, finishing or almost finished by the end of 2020.”
He said that he knows people will say that he is planning things to coincide with general elections at the end of 2020.
“I dun know the talk. But it’s fortunate that I am informing people all the time about what is happening,” he said, adding that it is the same way that people said he was building the international airport for elections,” said Gonsalves, whose Unity Labour Party will seek a fifth consecutive term in office.