While noting that he is still not sure how much money ICA BVI Group intends to invest in developing the state-owned Prospect Reef Resort on Tortola, Premier and Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando Smith yesterday expressed confidence that the said firm is capable of funding its plans for the loss-making property.
He recently disclosed that ICA BVI Group comprises a consortium of BVI and Middle Eastern partners. The key principal is Ali Nawaz Shaikh, and the BVI partners include Verlin Crabbe and Dion Stoutt.
“We have been intouch with the group, and we have reviewed what they have to offer. We reviewed what they have to say about their finances, and we are content that they have the ability to do what they have expressed that they are able to do,” Premier Smith told journalists yesterday (March 8) during a press briefing at his Road Town offices.
When asked how much money the company plans to invest in the project, the premier replied: “There is no cost mentioned in the Memorandum of Understanding [signed between the government and ICA BVI Group]. After the Memorandum of Understanding, we are now working towards a development agreement which will define the entirety of the project, and then we will be able to have a price tag.”
Premier Smith yesterday noted that, in December last year, his government signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ICA BVI, adding that the agreement sets out the framework for progressing with the re-development of Prospect Reef.
“Within the coming months, we expect to sign the development agreement with ICA with an aim to begin rebuilding the property to a standard that would attract business and leisure clientele,” he said yesterday while explaining the type of improvements he expects to take place on the property.
“Along with offering exceptional accommodation for the leisure traveler, we expect that the hotel will undergo major renovations and improvements aimed at making it a full-service business hotel with proper conference facilities.”
Premier Smith said he is still excited about the project.
“We are excited about the development of this project and the opportunities it will create for our people and the revenue it will provide from the high-quality accommodations, with the services offered in many five star hotels around the world.”
The premier further told journalists that it was a ‘visionary call’ he had made back in 2005 when his National Democratic Party administration decided to purchase Prospect Reef Resort.
“The overarching objective [in 2005] was driven by the need then to improve the BVI tourism offering through the development of a large capacity hotel with modern conference facilities and other amenities. At that time, I wanted to add more quality jobs to our workforce, and I wanted to see more opportunities created for Virgin Islanders to participate in the project development and operations, where we could all contribute to the territory’s long-term economic growth. Today, I am still of the same mindset as we continue to make steps forward in seeing Prospect Reef Resort develop into a world-class hotel facility.”
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