By Alva Solomon
“THE suspense is finally over!” were the words of Tourism Minister Cathy Hughes as she addressed persons at the official opening of the highly anticipated Aruwai White H2O Resort in the Mazaruni River, Essequibo.Comprising 35 of 50 completed rooms, and blue waters and sandy beaches among a host of other amenities, the luxurious edifice has been in the making for some four years, and yesterday an excited audience was on hand to witness the official opening of this tourism masterpiece, projected to be a trend-setter in the local tourism industry.
A host of government officials and their acolytes were on hand to witness the opening at a gala ceremony on the island. These included Minister Cathy Hughes; Minister of State, Joe Harmon; Minister within the Ministry of Labour, Simona Broomes; and former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds. Former Tourism Minister Manniram Prashad also sat in the audience.
Proprietor Chunilall Baboolall, one of Bartica’s career miners, told the hyped audience that the idea for the resort stemmed from discussions he had had with Former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who encouraged miners to diversify their businesses from mining to other sectors. “This is one of the sectors,” he happily reported.
“We finally delivered a world class resort to our country, Guyana,” an excited Baboolall declared as he lauded the support he had received from many, including the Government of Guyana; his family members; and contractors, electricians and other artisans who contributed to the project’s realisation.
Baboolall said that businesses rely on assistance from the government, and noted that it is a challenge to diversify one’s business, especially as a miner in an atmosphere of falling gold prices. To a round of applause, Baboolall said the architects behind the venture are open to assist those persons who may wish to pursue similar ventures.
Minister Hughes said that in these economic times one has to be very committed to one’s country to make such a huge investment. She lauded the efforts of the Bartician, and said the Tourism Ministry and the tourism industry have recognised the investor’s important decision to invest, thereby adding quality and excellence to the sector.
Hughes said that since assuming her current portfolio in government, she has had the opportunity to travel and meet persons all over Guyana and overseas, and when persons hear of the Land of Many Waters, she shows them images which they deem impressive.
She said the resort would definitely receive the support it needs, and in January of 2016, the government will roll out an impressive marketing plan to encourage locals and those persons overseas to visit these shores.
“We have information that is out there and that will get people to come to Guyana”, the Tourism Minister noted.
AHEAD OF THE GAME
She said the resort in its current state is “ahead of the game” and, in her opinion, far exceeds some locations she has seen as a traveller.
Indranauth Haralsingh, Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority, also heaped on the proprietor praise for the investment. He said the venture is a display of confidence in Guyana’s economy and its tourism potential, and described the location as the “perfect getaway” for locals and overseas visitors.
He noted that the first images which emerge of the area created a stir on the Internet, locally and globally.
“Aruwai is a true definition of what an all-inclusive resort looks like,” Haralsingh said. He predicted that the venture would complement Guyana’s tourism product and create opportunities for tourism and employment.
Minister Harmon told the gathering that he also was impressed by the resort, and it sets a standard for tourism here. He added that the resort can outdo others within the Caribbean region.
Harmon said President Granger visited the resort while it was under construction, and also was impressed at the time. He said the resort produces a “magnificent multiplier” effect which ripples through the local community. This includes a new road which links the location to nearby Bartica.
Harmon said the venture benefits the business sector, and would contribute to the development of Bartica, while many will be motivated by the general presence of the venture. He therefore challenged others in the area to adopt the standard set by the resort.
Minister Broomes, herself a Bartician and miner, congratulated the investor. In brief remarks, she noted that she has known the Baboolall family for many years, and she described the businessman as an example to many others. She said she recalls him saying, “In life and in business, a good name will not take you there; it’s the determination and passion and focus”.
Broomes said the support the resort is looking for can be found behind an open door, as she offered support to the venture.
Aruwai H2O Resort sits on a once under-developed island that was once known as “Bucktrack Island”. It will be fully operational next week, when it will begin to take bookings for visitors. Among plans for the resort’s expansion is one to construct an airstrip on the island.
The proprietor also has other plans for the economic sectors, including an “Aruwai” plaza and hotel, which opens on Sheriff Street in Georgetown in the months ahead.