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(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – Prime Minister of Saint Lucia Mr. Allen Chastanet has turned the sod for the official commencement of work for the new Sandals Saint Lucia resort, which will be the company’s fourth hotel on the island.
The Prime Minister was joined by Minister with Responsibility for Tourism Dominic Fedee, Minister of Economic Development and Urban Renewal Guy Joseph, Sandals Director of Corporate Services Jeremy Jones and Sandals Saint Lucia Managing Director Winston Anderson.
During the ceremony which took place on Wednesday May 2nd at the new site, the Prime Minister welcomed the investment which he says will bring significant benefits to Saint Lucia.
“The investment today represented 36,000 new guests who will be coming to Saint Lucia. This by itself will represent a 10% increase in the number of arrivals into Saint Lucia. And in terms of money, expenditure ….we’re talking close to US$65M in additional expenditure per year that this property is going to generate.”
Prime Minister Chastanet noted that the vote of confidence by Sandals Chairman the Hon. Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart to invest in Saint Lucia sends a strong message to the international community about the value of the Saint Lucia product, which makes government’s job of trying to attract additional investment that much easier.
Minister for Economic Development Guy Joseph also commended Sandals for investing its own resources to develop the resort, rather than seeking to have the government use public funds to do so.
“I am especially proud of Sandals and will continue to support the drive to invest in Saint Lucia because while we have had to go to CIP and other areas to get investment into Saint Lucia, here we have a Caribbean grown investor who has not ventured into any of these areas but has made substantial investment in this country, especially at this point in time when everybody is looking for the easy way out for foreign direct investment, Sandals is putting its own money on the table to develop a project of this nature.”
Approximately 1,200 persons will be employed during the construction phase, which is anticipated to be between 22 and 24 months. Upon completion the new Sandals resort will boast 380 high end suites, the very latest in room designs and features, and will employ an additional 900 permanent workers, bringing the total number of employees in Saint Lucia to some 2,700 people.
Sandals Director of Corporate Services Jeremy Jones says the multiplier effect of this increased employment will be significant.
“That’s loans being taken at the bank, homes being built, cars being bought, money being spent in the supermarkets and businesses …you are going to see the multiplier effect, and the linkages (with other stakeholders in the sector) really come in to play, especially in the agriculture sector.”
Mr. Jones noted that this project has been on the cards for some time, in line with the original purpose of the peninsula and causeway at Pigeon Island which was targeted toward tourism development, adding that Sandals is simply playing its part in enhancing that touristic development envisioned. Mr. Jones also noted that environmental issues were very important to Sandals, and during construction allowances have already been made to manage silt as well as the provision of special wash bays for trucks etc. The resort is also being built in line with the latest technology for eventualities like earthquakes and hurricanes.
It was welcome news for Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee, “I am looking forward to this project because what I know of your corporate philosophy is that you have a very integrated approach to the development of business. Not only do you have a very rigorous training programme, from which not just your properties but a number of other properties island wide have benefitted …you continue to be the University of the Tourism Sector.”
Also on hand for the morning’s commencement of work ceremony was the Mayor of Gros Islet James Edwin, the Mayor of Castries Peterson Francis, the Executive Chairperson of the Tourism Authority Agnes Francis, as well as several senior Sandals officials including General Managers Chris Elliott and Michael James.
The site was blessed by Father Michael Francis of the St. Joseph the Worker Church of Gros Islet, who is also acting as Archbishop at the moment.