Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Hon. Camillo Gonsalves, has said that the construction of the Commercially Important People (CIP), lounge at the Argyle International Airport (AIA), is beneficial to this country’s tourism product.
Minister Gonsalves was addressing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), between AIA and Kayan Holdings, for Fixed Based Operations (FBO), and the CIP.
He said that the AIA is the largest infrastructural investment in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, (SVG), and in many ways one of the most important pieces of infrastructure that this government or any government, ever constructed in this country.
He added that it is integral to government’s developmental aspirations, not only in the field of tourism, but in the entire ancillary spill-offs.
“Having built the airport, and as it exists now, the Prime Minister indicated a priority of this government is to make AIA work, and make it work successfully. One of the things we have to do is attract investment, and attract people who have experience in the aviation business to help us leverage the advantages and the potential of the AIA.” Minister Gonsalves said.
the Minister added that Dr. Nayak has demonstrated in St.Kitts and Nevis that he is a good investor, who knows how to make this type of operations work.
Giving an explanation as to what an FBO is, Minister Gonsalves said it is an area where an investor, and in this case Dr. Nayak, offer aviation services of different types; “very important to the success of the airport”.
The lounge, he said, is also very important, particularly to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and the type of tourism product that the country offers.
Minister Gonsalves also said that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has two islands (Mustique and Canouan), inhabited by CIP’s, and very often people of a certain net worth expect a certain level of service when they land at airports. He noted that because this type of service was not traditionally offered in this country, these people found it necessary to stop somewhere else on route to Mustique and Canouan. “This lounge will provide that experience, will make people feel special from the minute they enter the borders of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and will make their vacation begin from the minute they land.”
Minister Gonsalves further stated that he knows that as an organisation Kayan Holdings expects the CIP lounge to do excellent business in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, given the volumes of wealthy people who already travel to these shores, and also because Dr. Nyak and his team will drive traffic to SVG for their FBO services for private and leased aircraft, and for the wealthy people.
He thanked Dr. Nyak for his investment and said that he expects great things from the FBO and the Lounge. “It will enhance what the airport does, and will enhance our aviation and tourism services," the Minister added.
Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, in his remarks, said when he first met Dr. Nayak, his two immediate initiatives at that time concerned the FBO and also the matter of training for people involved in the tourism sector at all levels.
He stated that every passenger passing through AIA is important as they help to pay for staff and operations at the airport. “I don’t want anybody to feel that we only think, that is what they call it Commercially Important Persons, but I just want to reaffirm that everybody who comes through here is commercially important."
Dr. Gonsalves also said that the fact that a private sector entity is prepared to come and invest, indicates that there is confidence in AIA, and when completed, it would add prestige, and increase the availability of services to Argyle.