President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr Warren Smith is staying clear of the ongoing controversy surrounding the proposed Hyatt hotel project.
“I don’t think that we would want to get involved in that particular discussion. I think that [Hyatt] is for the Government and people of Barbados,” Smith responded when asked by Barbados TODAY to share his views on the development, which has been earmarked for Bay Street, St Michael, but has already been met with significant resistance.
Social activist and attorney-at-law David Comissiong has threatened to take legal action if a thorough environmental impact assessment is not undertaken before work could begin on the 15-storey luxury hotel, which has also been given the thumbs down by the Barbados National Trust.
The Trust, which is represented on the Barbados World Heritage Committee, has already objected to the project, fearing its construction would cause Barbados to lose its crucial World Heritage designation for the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison and put it on the “danger list”.
Though refusing to be drawn into the Hyatt debate, Smith underscored the vital importance of tourism investment to Barbados’ economic recovery, which he described as “anaemic” at best, with the CDB currently projecting 0.9 per cent growth for the island this year.
“The more hotel investments you can get, along with other investments, and recognizing that the tourist industry is a diverse one, and it can be more diversified and more linkages can be made between the tourism industry and other economic sectors, such that you get more bang for your buck, those are the types of things that we would like to see happen,” he told Barbados TODAY.
The CDB president also said that even though agriculture was no longer the island’s main income earner, he believed there were opportunities for greater linkages with tourism.
“I am a big believer that a modernized agriculture sector can be integrated into the tourism industry which has a great demand for food. So let us look at the opportunity for a linkage between a modernized, transformed agricultural sector and the dynamic growth sector of tourism,” he said, adding that Barbados also had a unique heritage, which remained attractive to tourists.