Tourism minister raps developers over stalled projects

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Declaring that 2017 should be the year of action, Antigua & Barbuda’s tourism minister has chided developers, saying stalled construction of promised hotels and condos will not be accepted.
“It is time now for them to get up and move, all of them. We are putting them on notice — Royal Antigua, YIDA, Sun Wing, Reply at Half Moon Bay, this must be the year of action,” Asot Michael said during the 2017 Budget Debate.
“They have to make sure that they are going to start [or] this government will give them all the concessions they want.”
Michael said most of these developers have already broken ground and were in the process of completing Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for the various projects.
He also singled out the Grand Royal Antiguan Resort & Spa, which the government has promised to acquire if the owners do not develop the property during a specified time.
Last September, the government’s Chief of Staff Lionel “Max” Hurst indicated that the owners, Trinidad & Tobago-based Issa Nicholas Group, committed US $12 million to the renovation of the run-down hotel.
Michael said the principals of the resort are expected to meet with Prime Minister Gaston Browne this week to provide an update with regards to the project.
He said if progress is not made, the government will move forward with is acquisition plans.
“We are not in the business of acquiring property, but, if we have to do it, we have no gold, we have no diamonds, all we have is our hotel plants, our people and our beaches. We are not going to give them another year,” Michael stated.
The minister also recommended the set-up of a parliamentary committee to monitor the progress of several promised projects.
The minister said the goal is to ensure that the country has adequate room stock for visitor arrivals.
Senior Minister Sir Lester Bird raised a similar concern about stalled projects in Antigua last year, when he chided the government for “having too much ground-breaking and nothing to show”.
The National Hero said he was concerned with the inordinate delay in projects for which his government had already turned the sod.
He also said the announcement of several projects without progress was raising the ire of residents.

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