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27th April 2004

Remarks by PM at Sod-turning Ceremony for Disovery at Rodney Bay

Today marks the first phase of the future of this project./ Discovery at Marigot Bay represents a significant investment with much potential for the development of the entire Marigot Bay area. It is a well-thought-out [project with several components that seek to integrate the various operations in this pristine corner of our coastline. It is not an all-inclusive resort and as such it does not seek to close the bay off to its traditional users or inhabitants. Instead, as we understand it, the plan is to attract high-end business into Marigot, which will be good for everyone, creating jobs, raising standards and greatly increasing the profile of Marigot (and, by extension, St. Lucia, in the eyes of the rest of the Caribbean.

As with every other major development project over the years, this project has had its fair share and mix of praise and criticism. The critics have voiced concern about exclusion and other possible departures from what has existed up to now. It is expected that the voices of all stakeholders would have been heard and that the developers would have been guided by their concerns in coming to conclusions. At the same time, we have learned – like everyone else – that nothing remains static and that there are times when the opportunity has to be seized to take things from one point to a next. Marigot Bay is at exactly such a phase. Best known as a sheltered harbour and a so-called “hurricane Hole” it has also brought us fame and history as the location for the filming of Rex Harrison’s “Dr Dolittle” – (and here I mean the first Dr Dolitte, not the second starring Eddie Murphy). That history and fame we have to be ever thankful for. However, social and economic conditions often demand departures from the norm the interest of national development. This, we feel is one of those occasions when we have to move on, but not without being careful about how we move on and what we do when we do move on.

What is taking place here is the unveiling of a comprehensive plan which helps bring a new dimension to our tourism product. It is clear that with the state of agriculture and tourism, today, we have had to embark on various aspects of diversification of these sectors. In the tourism sector, we have had to take a deliberate look at the development of the marine and yachting sector. As such, we have been welcoming investments in various aspects of the marine industries, including the development of yacht marinas and integrated marine and land-based projects as is the case with Discovery at Rodney Bay.

Here, your project is a US $30 million investment involving a five-star apartment hotel and marina resort on the site of the old Hurricane Hole here at Marigot Bay. My understanding is that more than half of the 57 brand new apartments have already been sold. The project is expected to generate over 140 hotel rooms and suites, luxury spa, fitness centre, quality restaurants, bars, pools, a state of the art marina and restored beaches. It is also expected that the project will generate over 200 jobs for St. Lucians during the construction phase and over 150 jobs when in operation. A similar project is also being undertaken at Rodney Bay within the context of development of the yachting sector, with the development of a project called The Harbour at Rodney Bay. Undertaken by a local company called Tropical Homes Ltd, it involves the building of 20 waterfront condominium units and a restaurant, among other amenities for yachtsmen in search of a home in these parts. That US$20 million project has potential for employment of some 80 persons and the investment capital is all local. A third project proposal is also being looked at by out Ministries of Tourism and Planning for yet another site, this time north of Rodney Bay. And all of these follow the recent launching of the Marine Industries Association of St. Lucia, which is expected to assist in the development of industries such as these that have to do with our seas, harbours and marinas.

In breaking ground for construction today, we are opening the way for the transformation of this area into, not a beehive of noise, hustle and bustle but one of employment generation, community participation and sharing of opportunities. It is to be hoped that the residents of the area will have begun to benefit by way of employment opportunities and guarantees of opportunities for participation in the development of this project. It is our sincere hope that the developers will stick to their promise of seeking to work with other guest houses, restaurants, bars, water sports providers, vendors and others to create a clean, safe and attractive environment that will become a desirable destination for tourists and residents alike.

With this in mind I hereby take pleasure in breaking the soil and declaring the construction phase of this project open.