The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) candidate for St Michael North East Patrick Todd has attributed a recent increase in visitor arrivals from the United States to the presence of the Sandals hotel group on the island.
Addressing a DLP meeting at Bank Hall last evening, Todd stopped short of providing any statistical evidence of this, but was adamant that Government’s relationship with the Gordon Butch Stewart led group has been good for Barbados.
In fact, he told party supporters that the only reason the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) has been criticizing the concessions granted to the Sandals hotel group was because it was “jealous of what we have accomplished with that hotel chain”.
“The BLP is jealous of what we have done with Sandals because they did nothing to get Sandals started when they purchased Paradise Beach Hotel in the early 1990s,” Todd charged, adding that “the concessions we gave them have benefited both sides, not only with their investments at the former Casuarina Hotel and Almond Beach Village, but they have given us millions of dollars in free advertising when they advertise their properties in the international media”.
After the Sandals deal for Paradise Beach Hotel fell through, the Four Seasons group purchased the property and started a major project there, but it was abandoned following the global economic recession in 2008, and attempts to resuscitate it have been unsuccessful to date.
Todd, the former DLP representative for the City of Bridgetown, who will be going up against the BLP’s leader Mia Mottley this time around, also touted the island’s tourism performance over the past five years.
While suggesting that Sandals should take its share of credit for the recent growth, Todd noted that the Jamaican-led company had just sent in an application to the Town and Country Planning Department for the transformation of the Almond Beach Village property in St Peter into one of their Beaches resorts.
He also gave an update on the Sam Lord’s Castle project in St Philip, explaining that “we financed this [project] through a low interest loan from the Chinese government, and Barbadian contractors are doing at least 40 per cent of the work there, as opposed to former projects with the Chinese where the workforce was predominantly from that country.
“Once that project is completed, we will also see some benefits coming to businesses in that part of the country as they interact with visitors and the local people working at the property,” he said.
The St Michael North East candidate also pointed out that the multi million dollar Hyatt development slated for Bay Street remained stalled on account of legal action, “hampering people in The City from getting jobs”.
However, he promised that “once that gets under way, along with the other hotels and convention centres we have planned for the Carlisle Bay and Needham’s Point areas, we will see Bridgetown prosper. In fact, we will have so many people working that the percentage of unemployment on the island will be in the single digit range,” he asserted.