August 18, 2022

Caribbean Tourism Matters: Exactly what is going on?

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By Adrian Loveridge, Caribbean News Now, From Hotel Online

Aug. 26–I was recently invited to attend a meeting to discuss among other things the potential implications of our World Heritage Status and the final planning approval and construction of the much publicized Hyatt Centric Hotel.

Certain documents that are available in the public domain were shown and while I can profess absolutely no knowledge of planning matters, so many unanswered questions came out of this attendance that a layman like me is left to wonder.

First, who is the beneficial owner of the land where the proposed mixed use accommodation and supporting ancillary services is proposed to be built?

Secondly, with so many recent issues concerning the south coast sewage project resulting in several actual or possible business failures. Add the damming effect it has had on our highly regarded reputation as a tourism destination, how on earth could ‘we’ even consider additional demand on the clearly failed sewage treatment plant without this project having its own system to dispose of its generated waste.

What also surprises me is that a corporation with the reputation of a brand like Hyatt would want to be controversially embroiled in anything other than a transparent, professionally presented, ecologically responsible and publicly acceptable development that will rely, at least economically, on selling individual units of lodging options, including 32 residential condominiums*.

Of course, in our current economic dire circumstances, we all want to fully embrace investment, visitor arrival growth, foreign currency earnings and employment, but surely there have to be safeguards?

It seems inconceivable that any definitive planning approval could be granted without all these questions being asked, including is Bay Street really the most logical and practical site for this mixed usage property?

The reason so often proffered for the lack of development of the nearby former Holborn oil refinery, next to the Hilton, is that it’s still under litigation, or there are serious ‘environmental issues’. How many more generations will pass before ‘we’ finally find a solution that will return prime oceanfront property to our tourism sector and just maybe, a world class convention centre plus the opportunity to find a solution to added waste problems, all in one?

Hopefully with the new administration there will be a great deal more disclosure, so that all of us can understand how special concessions can be granted without some level of transparency?

The taxpayers were told that the compelling reason behind selling one of the remaining ill-fated and costly GEMS hotel project at well below stated market value was that it was destined to become a Hard Rock Hotel.

Not a single journalist appears to have pointed this out at the time, that the average size of a Hard Rock Hotel is in fact 600 rooms and the largest having 1,787 rooms.

Was this another scenario where existing planning restrictions were going to be ignored or plastered over?

Imagine the effect that the flushing of 600-plus more lavatories, four or five times a day from a single added property would have on our already overburdened existing waste disposal and sewage treatment facilities?

*source: Hyatt News Release 27 July 2016

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IMAGE: Adrian Loveridge FILE

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