The oil and gas industry has exposed a serious shortcoming in Guyana’s hotel industry. According to acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), Colvin Heath London, Guyana is short 2000 hotel rooms and it is upon this premise that it has vigourously pursued several international brands to take up occupancy along the East Coast.
During an exclusive interview with the Guyana Standard, London said, “…When people come to Guyana to do business, especially because of the oil sector, they expect to stay at hotels of a certain standard. The only one that fits the bill is the Guyana Marriott and then Princess and Pegasus but those two are of a lower standard.”
In spite of a “low standard”, London said that the Princess and Pegasus Hotels continue to carry a very high occupancy rate. He was keen to note that while “rinky-dink” options are doing well, this state state of affairs can no longer continue as it is hampering opportunities for Guyana to be a host for certain international events. In this regard, he noted that Guyana could not host the English cricket tour because there were not enough rooms available for visitors.
Considering this, the official said that NICIL has approached brands like AC Marriott, Hilton, Holiday Inn, and Hyatt to build in Guyana. He noted however that the foregoing is just one aspect of the accommodation problem. He said that the other part speaks to the failure of both the current and past administration to give out enough house lots so that they can be developed.
London said, “The PPP built houses for professionals etc but both administrations never concentrated on middle and upper income people. They never catered for people coming back from the Diaspora who don’t want to build but just buy a house. And here we have expats coming into Guyana and they want a place that is safe and has all the amenities …but you don’t have suitable or enough options available.”
The NICIL CEO said that the shortage is such a serious issue that renting prices have skyrocketed. In this regard, he said that houses that carried a $40,000 rent are now going for more than US$1000. NICIL he said hopes to fill this gap by creating a city at Ogle that spans about 800 acres and carries condominiums and hotels.
He said, “…We are going to develop the Ogle area to put more rooms to help with the growing demand…When you go in there it would be all inclusive. You are going to have your discos, your hotels, police station, restaurants, houses, condos, the whole works. It is going to be an Ogle City.”
Adding to this, the official reminded that NICIL was able to bring in more than $1B in investment in six months. “We got value. We didn’t have to undersell land or give away concessions. We are getting these people to invest but at a much higher stand,” the NICIL CEO stressed.
London said he is eager to continue this project once the elections are over as he anticipates it will lift Guyana’s overall architectural image while attracting even more investors.