Nov 03, 2021 News
… eyes opportunities in Hotel industry to support Oil sector growth
… also expresses interest in mining, forestry, agro-processing
Kaieteur News – Guyana and private sector investment groups from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are currently in fresh talks, with a view to exploring opportunities particularly in the hotel industry to support the country’s increased arrivals, a direct result of the country’s nascent oil and gas sector.
This is in addition to exploring opportunities that exist in the mining, forestry and the agricultural sectors.
To this end, Senior Finance Minister within the Office of the President, Dr. Ashni Singh, yesterday hosted a virtual follow-up meeting between Mr. Maan Halabi, Managing Director of the Al Habtoor Group LLC located in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the UAE and Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond, along with local private sector representatives.
The meeting, according to a statement yesterday from the Finance Ministry, “took place in the Boardroom of the Ministry of Finance and formed part of a series of meetings hosted by Dr. Singh recently as a follow-up to meetings first held in Dubai during a visit by President Irfaan Ali and a team of Government Ministers.”
The Guyanese Government officials had travelled to that country to attend the World Expo 2020 in Dubai.
It was noted that the Al Habtoor Group is one of the UAE’s most respected and successful businesses that provides engineering and construction services but also operates in the hospitality, automotive, real estate, education and publishing sectors and with vast investments in tourism.
According to the Finance Ministry, during President Irfaan Ali’s recent visit to Dubai, the Al Habtoor Group had expressed interest in expanding its global footprint in the tourism properties market.
As such, “Government continues to court the group into taking up available investment opportunities in the hotel and resort industry here, or partnering with local private sector investors to expand the industry.”
To this end, yesterday’s “meeting allowed for the discussion of investment opportunities in these areas,” according to the Finance Ministry in its statement.
Dr. Singh, in the missive, noted that there is a wide range of opportunities for the Group to invest in Guyana, particularly in the tourism sector.
These include green-field investments in new flagship hotel projects, partnerships with existing investors currently developing hotel projects, and establishment of large-scale nature-based tourist resorts.
He further indicated that the tourism sector is poised for rapid expansion in Guyana and is therefore attractive to international investors like the Al Habtoor Group which already has a global footprint of premium flagship hotels worldwide.
Forestry & Mining
“The tourism industry in Guyana even before the COVID-19 period had started to gain international acclaim especially for eco-tourism. With the advent of the oil and gas sector and that attention, we also began seeing increased interest with just visitors and businesses for the oil and gas sector so, one of the good problems that we have so far in Guyana is that we have the need for good quality rooms, “Minister Walrond explained to Mr. Halabi.
She further noted that within a month of Government being in office, expressions of interest were sent out for internationally-branded hotels to be built in the country since one of Guyana’s premier hotels—the Marriott—is currently fully booked until January 2022.”
Noting that there has already been sod-turning for a number of new additional hotels, with two having taken place close to the Timehri International Airport, the Tourism Minister added that Government will soon send out expressions of interest for luxury-branded eco-tourism facilities within the eco-tourism industry as it hopes to have at least 2,000 hotel rooms available for visitors to the country.
Meanwhile, former President of the Guyana Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) Mitra Ramkumar during the meeting said he believes that the tourism industry in Guyana had already taken off even before the advent of oil and gas.
He noted however that Guyana can “learn much from the UAE on how its tourism industry can be a spin-off from the oil and gas sector especially since Guyana has pristine rainforests, a diversity of people, beauty and nature as well as vast lands for development and investment, and as such, further investment can catapult its success.”
Meanwhile on Friday last, Minister Singh hosted another meeting between His Excellency Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) and his team.
The two were joined by Guyana’s Ministers of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat and Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, along with other private sector stakeholders within the Agriculture and Gold and Diamond mining sectors in Guyana.
At that meeting, the team members indicated to the DMCC that Guyana has the capacity for the large-scale production of many agricultural commodities such as soya bean, ginger, corn, rice, coconuts, eddoes, cassava and plantains which can be exported to Dubai.
It was emphasized that with Dubai, being a major global commodity trading hub, Guyana stands to gain access to wider markets for its products.
Other investment opportunities explored included areas of forestry and the mining sectors.
According to the Ministry, “upon hearing about these investment opportunities, DMCC then expressed interest in learning more about Guyana’s agricultural commodities such as coffee, cocoa and mining potential including rare earth minerals.”
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