Major investments pegged for CJIA environs – President Ali  

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…as sod turned for US$20M Marriott Courtyard Hotel

Friday’s sod-turning ceremony for the US$20M Marriott Courtyard Hotel next to the CJIA (OP Photo)

As part of Guyana’s massive economic transformation, the PPP/C Government will be injecting millions of dollars together with foreign investments to enhance the landscape of areas surrounding the country’s main port of entry – the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) in Timehri on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD).

This is according to President Dr Irfaan Ali on Friday during the sod-turning ceremony of the US$20 million Courtyard by Marriott Hotel that is being constructed next in the compound of the CJIA. Construction of the 140-room international hotel – the second such facility under the Marriott brand in Guyana – is expected to commence immediately and is slated to complete in 2023.

In his feature address to the gathering, President Dr Irfaan Ali posited that the surroundings of the CJIA will not only be enhanced by this world-class hotel but also other projects that are in the pipelines.

“We have now more than 40 international investors that are knocking at our door with different investments at the airport… The airport authority is short of lands to facilitate these investments. Not only are we seeing the realisation of a hotel, but we’re seeing the realisation of a new urban spread around the airport. And this area will become a major hospitality, leisure and sports recreational area, in addition to the business segment of the development. So, you will see Government itself investment billions of dollars over the next five years in the catchment area [around the CJIA],” the President noted.

The Head of State recalled his tenure as acting Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister where there were not enough rooms to accommodate visitors who travelled to Guyana for the international motor race meet at the South Dakota Circuit and they had complained of having to travel all the way to Georgetown.

The design of the US$20 million Courtyard by Marriott Hotel

“[It was] very taxing on the fans and the racers because there were no facilities around. But guess what, it’s coming and we are going to expand also in that sport. So… the type of investment that would be created around [the CJIA area] would only add to the success of this hotel,” he posited.

Moreover, the President noted that travel time to and from CJIA will also be significantly reduced with the alternative road to Georgetown [Diamond to Eccles to Mandela Avenue] and the bypass road that will eventually run from the Timehri airport to Ogle, East Coast Demerara.

According to Ali, Government has also commenced talks with local urban planners to look at the development of a silica city. He added that they are also searching for investors to establish a first-class marina or yachting club near the Demerara River as well as a world class resort along the Soesdyke-Linden Highway.

Sharing similar sentiments, Public Works Minister Juan Edghill also spoke of the enhancement of the CJIA environs which will complement Government’s overall development plans for the area and for the modernisation of the CJIA.

“There is lots to be done. There is room for the Private Sector and other private investors with the super-structure that will be put up [at the airport where] physical works will begin in a matter of weeks. There will be accommodations for 20 businesses – restaurants, duty-free shops, massage parlour, kids play park, and on the outside, upon the instruction of His Excellency, we will be providing accommodation for our local craft-makers – not in a shanty-town style… but in real, immaculate well-constructed accommodations to ensure the ambiance and accommodation of this environment is maintained,” Edghill posited.

President Dr Irfaan Ali

Against this backdrop, President Ali on Friday contended that the PPP/C Government is open to any Guyanese with a sound investment plan.

“Come knock on the door. Guyana is open for everyone. That is why we’re talking about creating an environment for those in arts and crafts close to the airport. We understand as a Government that they would not afford to pay large rentals for duty-free spaces but they cannot be locked out of the development. So very close to the opportunity, Government will invest in the facility to give them an equal break and this is what is called equality of opportunities; investing in infrastructures that give equality to opportunities.”

To support these and other projects in the hospitality sector, the Head of State disclosed that Cabinet on Thursday decided to invest in training approximately 3000 to 4000 hospitality workers to fill the demands that will arise in this industry.

“Whether it is through scholarship, whether it is through a homegrown design programme. The investment will be made by the Government to promote and provide Guyanese to meet the skill requirement for these facilities,” he posited.

Further, the President also disclosed that his Government will be investing close to $500 million of capital expenditure daily for the remainder of the year on development projects and programmes across the country.

Businessman Roy Bassoo addressing the gathering (OP Photo)

Meanwhile, the Government officials lauded the Bassoos family for venturing outside of their family-owned business to capitalise on the opportunities that are available.

Local contractor, Roy Bassoo established Cardinal Investment Inc as a special purpose company to construct the multimillion-dollar Marriott Courtyard Hotel. With financing from Republic Bank Limited, the project will be undertaken by Chinese-owned CNQC Guyana Limited with support from R Bassoo & Sons Construction Company.

Bassoo lauded the business-friendly approach the Guyana Government has taken to make the investment process hassle-free for local investors.

“We have gotten tremendous support from all the relevant agencies [GO-Invest, CJIA and GPL] … I am encouraged at the speed at which these agencies work in tandem. Yes, the President’s business-friendly Administration is indeed encouraging an environment of seamlessness within the Private Sector… This Courtyard by Marriott Hotel will transform the landscape and skyline of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport,” the businessman asserted.

Also present at Friday’s sod-turning ceremony were Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond, Minister Within the Public Works Ministry Deodat Indar, Minister within the Housing Ministry Susan Rodrigues, Chief Executive Officer of CJIA Ramesh Ghir, CEO of GO-Invest Peter Ramsaroop, US Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch and representative from Marriott International Eduardo Reple along with other dignitaries. [This article was first published in the Guyana Times]