PM Gonsalves defends Sandals Resort against ‘unnecessary’ criticism

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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines has come out to defend the Sandals Resort in Buccament Bay which is meant to be open to the public soon. The resort has faced significant criticism on the basis of what PM Gonsalves has called false information.

The Sandals Resort is due to open on the 27th of March but will be hosting the VIII Summit for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) prior to that on the 1st of March, 2024.

The issue arose when local fishermen, farmers and taxi operators in St Vincent and the Grenadines expressed concern about the possibility that they would not benefit from the resort by providing their services and produce.

The issue was exasperated when it was revealed that Island Routes in St Vincent and Grenadines would be expanded. To the fishermen, farmers and taxi drivers in the region, this seems like a direct threat to their livelihood, which has become a matter of concern to them.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has countered this narrative, stating that the Sandals Resort has roughly six consultations with taxi and minibus service providers who are expected to deal with it transportations requirements. Most of the people who will be involved in moving from the airport to the hotel and back will be local taxi drivers, which negates the issue.

He went on to add that the individuals who will be providing tours in the tour buses, taxis and minibuses will also be local service providers.

According to Gonsalves, it is absolutely normal for five-star hotels to have separate services for VVIPs which make it necessary to establish their own transportation services. Having said that, since the resort will require a large fleet to ferry guests back and forth, it is but obvious that locals will be a part of the services provided for their efficient functioning.

With regards to the concerns raised by fishermen in the area, Prime Minister Gonsalves clarified that hotel which function at the scale of the Sandals Resort do not acquire produce from multiple sources. This means that farmers and fishermen in the area will have to form a collective and approach the resort in that manner.

Supplying produce to the resort collectively will be beneficial to the fishermen and farmers in the area according to PM Gonsalves. Since the resort will have to meet quality standards, the produce sold to it will have to be packaged and meet certain requirements set by the resort.

“The idea that you can pull up your boat on the shores of Sandals and sell 15 pounds of tuna and 20 pounds of snapper and a few pounds of jacks and robin…No.”

“Rainforest Seafoods which buys fish, lobster and conch not from people on Mars… or people in Brazil or Timbuktu… they buy them from fishermen and women in St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

To assuage the concerns of the fishermen and farmers in the area, Prime Minister Gonsalves highlighted the fact that Rainforest Seafoods, which is the primary aggregator in this case, buys produce from local providers.

“I feel absolutely sure that if 15 fishermen, 10 fishermen, 5 fishermen in a cooperative decide to do an operation and they have the necessary resources and they want to sell directly to them, I’m sure that they would purchase. But you have to maintain the standards.”

Gonsalves added that local taxi operators will have to employ a similar approach and maintain certain standards to provide their services to the resort.

The St Vincent Tourism Authority will be responsible for providing taxi operators with the approval, training and certification necessary, in accordance with the requirements of the market place.

Prime Minister Gonsalves also spoke about food production, stating that he has been asking businesses to take part in a cumulative effort to aggregate agricultural products so that they can be sold in larger quantities.

Despite his efforts, Prime Minister Gonsalves has not received a satisfactory response from the sector, which is worrying.

He stated the following, “A man named Rayneau, who is a St Lucian, he comes here… his first agreement is for the quarry down in Richmond. Of course, COVID came, volcanic eruptions, political melee… different things deterred him.”

“I am told they are going to start to sell stones… aggregate from April into May. In the meanwhile, Rayneau, (he has a good nose for business), he sees an opportunity to aggregate agricultural products.”

Citizens of St Vincent and the Grenadines have also criticized Rayneau Gadjadhar, a St Lucian entrepreneur. This is a matter of concern for Prime Minister Gonsalves as the approach he hopes citizens would take with regard to the integration of smaller businesses is receiving pushback.

Nia Roberts
Nia Robertshttp://writeups24.com/
Nia Roberts, journalist at Writeups24, brings academic rigour and storytelling together. Nia's work covers diverse topics and uncovers hidden truths, amplifying marginalized voices. She stands as a paragon of journalistic integrity and a champion for the underrepresented. To reach Nia Roberts, you can email contact@writeups24.com

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