PRESS RELEASE – THE south of the island is earmarked for several major projects which have already commenced or will commence this year. Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation, External Affairs and the Public Service, Allen Chastanet, updated the nation on the developments during a press briefing on Tuesday at the Finance Administrative Centre.
Among the anticipated investment projects discussed were the Fairmont for Sabwisha, Choiseul; the Ritz Carlton for Black Bay, Vieux Fort; and the Canelles Project, and Desert Star Holdings “Pearl of the Caribbean” projects, also for Vieux Fort.
The Prime Minister recently returned from a trip to Miami, Florida, where he and a team of ministers — Minister for Infrastructure, Ports, Energy and Labour, Stephenson King; Minister for Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment, Lenard Montoute; and Minister with responsibility for Investment, Bradly Felix — held meetings with cruise lines on the southern cruise ship terminal.
“While we were in Miami, we had several meetings, the first of which was with two major cruise industry partners, Royal Caribbean and Carnival,” explained the Prime Minister. “This was specifically in relation to the Il Pirata site where we want to proceed with reclaiming land in that area to build a cruise ship terminal, a hotel park, as well as a major marina. We have been working with the cruise lines in order to make sure we are meeting their standards and so we have now entered discussions to formally bring them into the project.”
The Prime Minister also spoke of the recommencement of the horse racing track in Vieux Fort which forms part of the DSH project. He explained that during the Miami visit meetings were also held with Gulf Stream Park, a racetrack and casino in Hallandale Beach, Florida, which is one of the most important venues for horse racing the United States. He explained that Saint Lucia’s racetrack will have some of the same design elements.
“It is not just about horse racing, it is about developing a village around that facility. So those meetings went extremely well. Thankfully, work has recommenced on our horse racing track,” he noted, adding that a land dispute which had caused the hiatus had been settled.
DSH Chairman, Teo Ah Khing, was also on hand at the press briefing to show and explain the design for the race track as well as the design for the cruise terminal. With the target date for the track being October, this means Saint Lucia could see its first major world-class horse racing event in 2018.
“This track is a world-class standard track,” stated the DSH Chairman. “It is going to hold not just races for local horses and horsemen, there will be a place for international persons to bring their horses here for racing at the same time, to have good horses, award-winning horses come and race here. This will improve tourism and sports.”
Ah Khing spoke about the far-reaching benefits of the race track in terms of international media coverage and linkage industries.
The press also got the opportunity to see designs for the port facility in the south which the Prime Minister explained is long overdue.
“The port in the south allows constituencies that have not been able to participate in cruise tourism to develop their attractions because we have so many attractions in our southern communities,” stated the Prime Minister, who also specifically spoke about the benefits of the terminal to taxi drivers in the south who depend heavily on getting business only from the airport.
The Prime Minister explained that there are currently Environment Impact Assessments (EIAs) and sensitivity studies being done on the area.
In terms of more upcoming projects for the south, the Prime Minister stated that equipment has been arriving for the Sabwisha project and it is carded to start early March. The Government is also finalizing arrangements for the Ritz Carlton and an announcement on Canelles will be made soon by the developers.
The Prime Minister also explained that he will make an announcement shortly regarding the redevelopment of the Hewanorra International Airport.