Special focus being placed on tourism, agriculture and other sectors
Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, November 2, 2021: Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni K. Singh today hosted a virtual follow-up meeting between Mr. Maan Halabi, Managing Director of the Al Habtoor Group LLC located in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond along with Guyanese private sector representatives. The meeting took place in the Boardroom of the Ministry of Finance and formed part of a series of meetings hosted by Dr. Singh recently as a follow-up to meetings first held in Dubai during a visit by President Irfaan Ali and a team of Government Ministers. The Guyanese Government officials had travelled to that country to attend the Dubai 2020 Exposition.
The Al Habtoor Group is one of the UAE's most respected and successful businesses that provides engineering and construction services but also operates in the hospitality, automotive, real estate, education and publishing sectors with vast investments in tourism. During President Ali’s visit to Dubai, the Al Habtoor Group had expressed interest in expanding its global footprint in the tourism properties market. As such, Government continues to court the group into taking up available investment opportunities in the hotel and resort industry here or partnering with local private sector investors to expand the industry. Today’s meeting allowed for the discussion of investment opportunities in these areas.
Dr. Singh noted that there is a wide range of opportunities for the Group to invest in Guyana, particularly in the tourism sector. These include greenfield investments in new flagship hotel projects, partnerships with existing investors currently developing hotel projects, and establishment of large-scale nature-based tourist resorts. He further indicated that the tourism sector is poised for rapid expansion in Guyana and is therefore attractive to international investors like the Al Habtoor Group which already has a global footprint of premium flagship hotels worldwide.
“The tourism industry in Guyana even before the COVID-19 period had started to gain international acclaim recognition especially for eco-tourism. With the advent of the oil and gas sector and that attention, we also began seeing increased interest with just visitors and businesses for the oil and gas sector so one of the good problems that we have so far in Guyana is that we have the need for good quality rooms, “Minister Walrond explained to Mr. Halabi.
She further noted that within a month of Government being in office, expressions of interest were sent out for internationally-branded hotels to be built in the country since one of Guyana’s premier hotels-the Marriott- is currently fully booked out until January 2022.
Noting that there has already been sod-turning for a number of new additional hotels, with two having taken place close to the Timehri International Airport, the Tourism Minister added that Government will soon send out expressions of interest for luxury-branded eco-tourism facilities within the eco-tourism industry as it hopes to have at least 2000 hotel rooms available for visitors to the country.
Meanwhile, former President of the Guyana Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) Mitra Ramkumar said he believes that the tourism industry in Guyana had already taken off even before the advent of oil and gas, adding that this country can learn much from the UAE on how its tourism industry can be a spin-off from the oil and gas sector especially since Guyana has pristine rainforests, a diversity of people, beauty and nature as well as vast lands for development and investment and as such, further investment can catapult its success.
It was only on Friday last that Minister Singh hosted another meeting between His Excellency Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) and his team and Guyana’s Ministers of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat and Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, along with other private sector key stakeholders within the Agriculture and Gold and Diamond mining sectors in Guyana.
At that meeting on Friday last, the teams indicated to the DMCC that Guyana has the capacity for the large-scale production of many agricultural commodities such as soya bean, ginger, corn, rice, coconuts, eddoes, cassava and plantains which can be exported to Dubai. It was emphasized that with Dubai being a major global commodity trading hub, Guyana stands to gain access to wider markets for its products. Meanwhile, other investment opportunities were noted, such as those in the forestry and mining sectors.
Upon hearing about these investment opportunities, DMCC then expressed interest in learning more about Guyana’s agricultural and mining potential including commodities such as coffee, cocoa and rare earth minerals. The Guyanese representatives from both the public and private sectors thereby noted that now is the opportune time for Guyana’s abundant resources to be transformed into wealth for the prosperity of all citizens.