Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves says government recognizes the transformative role that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) can play in a country and as a result has channelled energy into making it easy for investors to operate.
Gonsalves, speaking recently at the media launch of Everything Vincy Expo Plus 2023 at the La Vue Hotel in Villa, told the gathering that he has just returned from Spain where FDI was discussed with members of The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the European Union (EU).
The Finance Minister said that last July, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves had a meeting with the EU as the president of CELAC and inaugurated what they are calling an “investment gateway” between Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.
“…And specifically an investment gateway between Europe and the Caribbean and the purpose of that gateway is to funnel investment from Europe into the islands of the Caribbean, the countries to the Caribbean, in areas that are beneficial to us and profitable to the investors,” Gonsalves explained.
He noted that they have done a lot of “strong” work in streamlining the investment process and making it easy for investors to come here while they have developed packages and projects that are attractive to the European investor.
“In St Vincent and the Grenadines, we recognize the transformative power of investment in the lives of Vincentians and in the development of the country.
“We are seeing investment now…we are standing in an investment and even now in the off season, the La Vue Hotel, I was speaking to management, they are between 80 to 100 per cent occupancy and this is not the tourist season and this is a good thing,” Gonsalves said.
The Finance Minister, painting a picture of the benefits of FDI, said so far, we have been able to attract the Sandals Resort and the company is building a $100 million facility at Buccament and when they open in February/March 2024, they are anticipating about 1200 guests per week in year one.
“1200 guests per week by 52 weeks is 62,000 people who will be in St Vincent and the Grenadines who were not in St Vincent and the Grenadines before. That is more than half of our population. That is what you call a market and while we talk about the importance of the Argyle International Airport for moving your products out, it is also important for moving potential consumers in,” Gonsalves explained.
He said that each of the proposed 62,000 guests are going to go places while buying and eating and using services from local businesses and people.
“When the Marriott comes on stream in 2025…they are projecting first year about 40,000 people. That’s a 100,000 people in two hotels. That is the population of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
“So in those two hotels, you would have doubled the number of people in your country to consume your goods and services. That is an amazing expansion of the number of bodies, the number of wallets, the number of credit cards, that will be in country to enjoy and experience what the business people of St Vincent and the Grenadines have to offer and it is going to continue,” Gonsalves commented.
He added that there are other hotels and tourism enterprises, including cruise tourism that are on the upswing and that means that in country, we are making a quantum leap in terms of the size of the market available to Vincentian producers, and the question is whether or not persons will take advantage of these new opportunities.
“Or whether other businesses outside of St Vincent and the Grenadines would follow this new market into St Vincent and the Grenadines and take advantage of it for us,” the Finance Minister commented.