A dozen new hotels are to pop up along the entire southwest coast over the next decade – from Hastings, Christ Church, north through Bridgetown to Paradise Beach, Clearwater Bay, St Michael – as the area is to become a major hotel strip, the Prime Minister has said.
Her plans for the miles of prime real estate, stretching from Savannah Beach Hotel to the site of the former Four Seasons development, were revealed in last week’s CIBC FirstCaribbean Economic update forum at the Sandals Barbados resort.
Mottley outlined a plan for the upgrade of four hotels along the route and the construction of about a dozen new ones.
“We are going to have a bespoke tourism investment conference in March that literally identifies all of the major plots in the country, particularly let’s start from the Savannah Hotel right down to Paradise. In that corridor, there are potential for about 12 hotel sites and four upgrades,” said Mottley.
Even public buildings within the area are earmarked for repurposing for tourism, said the Prime Minister, including Government Headquarters, built 60 years ago during the administration of Premier Sir Grantley Adams.
“We want to be able to turn where Government Headquarters is, into a major conference and convention centre, keeping the Prime Ministers’ office and maybe the Ministry of Foreign Affairs there but the site is large enough, because we have to be able to better leverage that corridor from Savannah to Paradise,” she added.
She said the conference in March will also identify lots in St Lucy, Christ Church and St Philip, for tourism-related investment.
Indicating that the plan was to have the private sector make the requisite investment, Mottley said that besides knowing the locations, individuals would be informed of the planning application process, the conditions which Government would agree to the development and the tax concessions that would accompany the venture.
She said divulging such information at the planned conference next year could be seen as a way of removing certain risks and uncertainties.
“So that if you want to use the word derisk, I can now use it that we have derisk the uncertainty that you would otherwise have in making a determination if you want to make an investment in the tourism sector in Barbados,” she said.
She also indicated that after the conference Government would be working on an “environmental scoping study” with the Coastal Zone Management Unit and other stakeholders, in order to “determine the feasibility of the reclamation of islands and or peninsulas”.
“That scoping study will take about six months to do. So we reckon that by next year this time we will comfortably be in a position to pass legislation to facilitate investment, not by the Government, but by those who want to invest in reclamation of either islands or peninsula, and we know broadly the three areas where it can happen but we now require the detail work to be able to go to the next level,” she said, without disclosing those areas.
Giving an indication that she expected the plans to materialize over the next ten years, Mottley said “this will be the focus of our Government to ensure that over the course of the next decade anyone who come to Barbados will see a completely different vista over the next ten years from Savannah at the Garrison to Paradise because this is what makes us most proud.”
She suggested that before the conference in March, the reformation of the Town and Country Planning Act, is to completed.
She said one of the most fundamental changes in that legislation would be to ensure that when an application was being denied, the Town and Country Planning Department would have to say why it was denying the application and what it would approve instead, giving the applicant the opportunity to “agree, have a conversation or appeal within 14 days”.