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An opportunity to establish a model tourism development

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The ground breaking ceremony for the US$60 million Black Sands Resort and Villas at Mt Wynne/Peter’s Hope is timely, coming less than one month before the Argyle International Airport (AIA) goes into operation.

The means by which visitors will get to St Vincent to fill the rooms at Black Sands is one less thing its developers have to worry about. That problem of how to airlift passengers in sufficient quantities to St Vincent was certainly one of the many issues that plagued the Buccament Bay Resort, which shut its doors on December 14, 2016 after its electricity supply was cut off.

Over the last 25 years or so, the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines have lived through the development of resorts in Canouan and at Buccament, and the experiences — positive and negative — of all stakeholders should now prove valuable in ensuring that we get this one right.

During the ground breaking ceremony yesterday, principal investor in the development Joseph Romano promised that there would be no restriction of access to the beach, in keeping with the law of the land. He also gave his word that locals would be hired during both the construction and operations phases of the project, with there being opportunities for upward mobility for workers employed at the resort. He pledged that fishermen and farmers would be respected and sought after and that a training facility would be established for employees of the resort.

A common saying among older Vincentians is that “a promise is comfort for a fool.” Mr Romano’s pledges may very well be viewed that way, except that we hope the experiences of the last 25 years have brought with them a certain level of wisdom, which will be used by those players who have been entrusted with the responsibility to ensure that the resort and villas are constructed and operated in accordance with the laws of the country, with respect for the rights of the people and with minimal negative impact on our natural environment.

We now know first-hand that there should be checks and balances at every stage of construction; that the access of Vincentians to our beaches cannot be restricted; that there exist in SVG dozens of well-educated and trained persons ready and able to fill most positions at the resort; we know what should be done in relation to the treatment of waste water and sewerage; that State officials in key departments such as public health, physical planning and labour should be vigilant and use the power given to them by the law to ensure that any problems that may arise are nipped in the bud.

Every success to Joseph Romano, Pace Development and Black Sands Resort and Villas. May yesterday’s ground breaking be the start of decades of bountiful partnership between the investors and people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

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