“It had to overcome considerable odds but today despite all of these attacks and slanders by people specialized in negativity and trying to destroy things it has become a reality,” he said to applause.
Earlier Thursday a group of persons, led by several senior opposition politicians, jostled with police to protest in front of the 197-room hotel. They believed that the US$58 million of public funds should have been spent on improving education, health and public infrastructure rather than construct a hotel that they contended had no feasibility plan.
“Despite all the attacks on this project,” he said the Marriott brand has been secured andthe hotel built to Marriott standards, about 230 Guyanese have been employed and US$27 million financing has been provided by Republic Bank.
He used the opportunity to respond to opposition critics of Winston Brassington, Chairman of Atlantic Hotels Inc (AHI), which is responsible for the hotel construction, and the Shanghai Construction Group that built the hotel. The President called him an “exemplary public servant whose only crime was working hard.” “No other public servant has been slandered more than Winston Brassington but he continued…I would like to publicly acknowledge his work,” he said.
Shanghai Construction Group’s presence in Guyana had been attacked by the political opposition on grounds that it did not allow skilled Guyanese to be employed in the construction of the hotel and instead the bulk of the workers were Chinese. “Recently, Chinese investors have been coming under attack as well but here it shows the quality of work that we have produced second to none in the world and I hope the company would use this to get other jobs here in Guyana and in other parts of the world,” said the Guyanese leader.
He touted the Marriott Guyana Georgetown hotel as a catalyst for the travel and hospitality sector that would bring “huge” benefits to the country such as the hosting of large international conferences. “Many companies and organisations will look to use these spacious and expansive facilities to attract international conferences, have weddings in Guyana and many other social and business functions,” he said.
Among them, he said, are improved standards through better training, continued investment by other hotels by improving their rooms and other amenities.