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Ground has been broken for the construction of the US$200 million Bahia Principe Resort in St. Ann by Grupo Pinero of Spain.
The project, which entails the construction of a 1,918 room hotel and villa, will be undertaken in three phases over a three-year period.
Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, who participated in the groundbreaking ceremony at the site in Runaway Bay on Friday (Oct. 7), said the resort represented a dividend on the investment by the government in the development of infrastructure such as roads, telecommunications, water supplies and reliable energy resources.
“We have to put in place the infrastructure, the roads, the water supplies and ensure that we have adequate energy resources. Those are the things in which my administration has invested over the period. We are proud of the outcome and this project is a tangible reward for the investments we have made,” Mr. Patterson stated.
He noted that the Bahia Principe Resort and other projects related to the expansion of the tourism industry, formed part of a deliberate plan by the government to concentrate economic activity in areas such as services, where the country had a competitive advantage. He assured environmentalists that the environment and eco-systems in the area would be preserved and protected, since the Spanish developers had an equal or even greater interest in their preservation.
He pointed out that Grupo Pinero had adjusted the original design and location of the resort in order to conform to the conditions required for the protection of the adjacent wetlands.
Mr. Patterson informed further, that the approval granted for the construction of the hotel clearly stipulated the conditions that must be met in terms of planning and the environment in keeping with local and international standards.
His comments were supported by Development Minister Dr. Paul Robertson, who stated that the Bahia Principe Resort was being constructed in an area zoned for such a development and that the due diligence procedures had been completed including an environmental impact assessment. He informed that the highest international standards have been observed in previous developments and have been exceeded in some instances.
It was also revealed that Grupo Pinero would rehabilitate areas of the wetlands destroyed prior to their acquisition of the property. The group also intends to work in collaboration with the University of the West Indies (UWI) through its Marine Laboratory located in Discovery Bay, to help in the enhancement of its research work.
In welcoming the project, Prime Minister Patterson said housing was a major concern for workers in the industry and appealed to hoteliers to enter into partnerships arrangements with the National Housing Development Corporation and the National Housing Trust to alleviate the present shortage.
The first phase of the five-star development involves the construction of a 734-room hotel, which is scheduled for completion next year. The entire project is expected to employ approximately 1,200 persons during construction, with over 2,000 persons employed upon completion.
Among the persons participating in the ground-breaking exercise were: Spanish Ambassador to Jamaica H.E. Jesus Silva Fernandez; Pablo Pinero, Executive President of Grupo Pinero and Jesus Castellanos, Project Manager for Bahia Principe in Jamaica.