The turning of the sod for a major investment is not unusual but the turning of the sod for the construction of a major hotel in Guyana has raised eyebrows. The ceremony has obviously boosted the image of the government and my extension the ruling party but there are many questions concerning this hotel which remain unanswered.
Let there be no mistake, the construction of a hotel branded by a major hospitality chain is a significant development in our country’s history. Guyana has never had that before, and to have a hotel bearing the name of the one of the major hotel chains in the world can improve Guyana’s tourism product.
But is this hotel about tourism or is it just a major investment? And how convinced are the Guyanese people that this project will actually come to pass?
The hotel project has had its stops and goes. The global financial crisis hurt the initial investors but it seems as if the government persisted and is now willing to have new investors have second go at it. Why the determination to go ahead with this project?
If this hotel is supposed to represent a good deal for the private sector why would the government have to play such an instrumental deal in putting the deal together? Why?
What is even more worrying from the perspective of the taxpayer is that it does seem as if some public funds are going to be pumped into this project. This should never be allowed. Whoever assumes the presidency of Guyana after Monday should make it known that the private investors behind this project are free to go ahead and build their hotel, but not one blind additional cent of taxpayers’ monies is going to be sunk because there can always be the risk that taxpayers’ monies can subsidize the foreign investors stake in the hotel, giving them a free ride at our expense. This must not be allowed to happen.
If the investors feel that this is a good project there should be no problem finding the money. So let them find the money, build their hotel and keep public funds out of the picture.
The people of Guyana have already made a significant outlay for this project. The sewage lines in the area were re-laid at an astronomical sum which was borne by the people of Guyana. This cost should never have been laid at the feet of the public purse. The private investors should have assumed this cost.
But the greater question to be asked is, “Why build this hotel in the first place?” Is there a need for such a hotel? Most persons who have been to the Princess Hotel would admit that this is a world class-facility. And it has been used by visiting Heads. There is now even a casino there.
For a country like Guyana with very limited tourism, hotels of the standards of Princess are good enough.
But let us assume that the government feels that there is a need to boost the standards of the local hospitality sector and therefore a hotel of this standard is required if Guyana is to really develop its tourism product?
But is it the lack of facilities or the absence of a five-star hotel that is holding back tourism in Guyana. It does not seem that this is the reason.
Princess Hotel is a fine facility and yet the original owner had to sell it out because it was not doing the sort of business that would have made it viable. There are many hotels in Guyana that are not doing well. So why another hotel?
And why is the government going to so much effort to ensure that this hotel is realized? What is the interest?
Certainly, the hotel will create a great deal of jobs and this single investment alone will boost the economy. It is investments of this magnitude that the economy needs.
And while it is good that the government has conceptualized the need for a hotel such as is being proposed, what about the other projects that can create jobs for our people? What about facilitating some garment factories? Why is the government not trying to float a garment company? Surely in terms of job- creation this is a better idea.
Why a hotel when there are so many hotels with almost non-existent rates of occupancy. Why this hotel? Why? Why? Is it human nature?
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