Indeed the opportunities that may arise as a result of the construction of the Argyle International Airport are many.
Looking at this topic, the first question that someone might ask is, will there be opportunities for new businesses? Simply put, the answer is yes. And the opportunities are endless.
Another question is, who should be putting strategies in place to capitalize on these endless opportunities? In this respect, both the government and the private sector must work together. Government must help to set the stage - as it is doing partly by building the airport - for private businesses to grow and develop. Once the stage is set though, private interests should seize the opportunities that are available.
What is IADC’s role in all of this? IADC’s mandate is to arrange for the financing and construction of the Argyle International Airport, and thereafter to manage it effectively and efficiently. In the near future, Vincentians would therefore be invited to bid for space for concession stands within the airport terminal building and invited to submit requests for rental of land space on the airport site to set up airport related businesses.
The IADC is also involved in at least two collaborative efforts: One with the Tourism Authority, Invest SVG, and the Director of Airports, to implement a marketing plan to attract new passenger and cargo airlines, as well as other related services to this country; and the other with the Planning Division, to develop a land use plan, to guide development within the airport zone.
Vincentians who are interested in doing business at the new Argyle Airport are encouraged to put on their business caps and to become first movers, so that they become the first choice for concession space and the other business opportunities within the airport compound.
Let us face it, in many respects, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is virgin territory for business and investment, and with the opening of the Argyle International Airport, the country will become far more accessible and attractive to foreigner investors for investment in businesses of all sorts.
Perhaps two of the most obvious areas for development are the services sector, particularly tourism, and as a natural extension, the agricultural sector. But with increased airlift, the manufacturing sector may see a boost as well.
We already have the example of the Buccament Bay Resorts, which was started with the understanding that along with that development would come improved airport facilities. We have already seen the massive employment created by this project during its construction phase. We have also seen other businesses being set up in that area and undoubtedly there will be more.
With the international airport development and the marketing of this facility, we expect a significant increase in stay over tourist arrivals. Obviously not all of these tourists would be going to Buccament. We are certain the other hotels established here will benefit from the enhance airport facilities as well. There are also opportunities for other investors, similar to those at Buccament Bay, to set up new businesses within the hospitality sector.
With the increase in hotel rooms and stay over tourists and the resulting increased demand for food, there will be enhanced opportunities for farmers to sell their products locally. Careful and well targeted investment in agriculture must now be foremost in the minds of farmers and other investors. The opportunities to make money in agriculture results not only from selling locally, but also with the new airport, freight charges for airlifting goods to foreign markets is likely to be less than it is now. This means that far more of the farmers’ money will remain in their pockets. How about for example, planting more flowers, so that we can export more cut flowers.
Regarding the communities around the airport: What sort of business opportunities might be available to them? Here are a few suggestions: Set up businesses that would attract tourists into the rural villages. For example, at present when tourists come to St. Vincent they go up to Belmont to view the Marriaqua valley. And from all accounts, they are “blown away” by the breath-taking beauty of the valley. But really, what is in the valley to attract the tourists to come down and spend money? There are rivers in the valley; there is the Roman Catholic Church; and there is the Montreal Gardens. Let us think about how we can capitalize on these and other aspects of our communities, as the tourists travel through our country.
How about setting up a restaurant that sells local foods done in a variety of attractive ways? This way, taxi operators will have choices when considering where to take visitors for a taste of St. Vincent. How about setting up Bed and Breakfast establishments in our villages?
Finally, the construction and operation of the Argyle International Airport means that the land at the E.T. Joshua Airport would now be converted into a new commercial centre: New Kingstown? Within this new development, there will be significant opportunities for business of all kinds.
Let us start planning to take advantage of these opportunities, all of which arise as a result of our decision to build our new airport, the Argyle International Airport – coming in 2012.