|Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy (centre), on tour of the new high rise parking facility at the LESC.??At left is Chairman of Barbados Conference Services Ltd, Algernon Leacock, and at right is Chief Executive Officer, Charmaine London. (C. Pitt/BGIS)|
Come June 2013, the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre (LESC) will be bigger, better and more energy efficient.
This was revealed this morning by Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, who delivered a progress report to members of the media on the construction being completed at the LESC.?? He explained that the finished product would provide "four floors of class ???A’ office space", in addition to enhanced conference space and retrofitted kitchen facilities, with the extended high rise parking already completed and operational since February.
In thanking the team involved in the project, including BCQS Limited and Barbados Conference Services Ltd., which manages LESC, the Minister also expressed his gratitude to the residents in the surrounding Two Mile Hill area and those who continued to patronise the Centre during the transition.
"There will come a point when the ability to have full access to the Centre is going to be restricted… [We don’t plan to] shut the conference centre, but you will not be able to rent the entire facility, for example, as would occur with BMEX and the Girlfriend’s Expo.?? You will be able to rent a [particular] room within the Centre…that is only for a matter of months because by June 2013, we do expect all the work to be substantially completed," he said.
Mr. Sealy observed that this phase of the project, which would cost 33 million dollars, was both on time and within budget, an achievement which had fostered support for an additional endeavour which would further improve the conference space.
"The project financers, the Bank of Nova Scotia…over $30 million has already been drawn down, [for] the work that has been done…the bank is extremely satisfied with the progress," adding that they were also on board with an additional $3 million project "which they are working on to reduce the conference centre’s high electricity bill, which was partly due to an antiquated central air conditioning system.
"That will incorporate the use of photovoltaic panels on the car park and possibly on the Centre itself…The largest cost [for this Centre] is electricity.?? There are some months when [the bill is] $130,000, sometimes as much as $160,000 for one month.
So, in the context of a three million dollar project that bill can be cut in half," Minister Sealy said, adding that this was in keeping with government’s focus on greening the economy.
Stating that it was important that the LESC continues to be Barbados’ premier conference centre, the Minister explained that the "mixed use" approach – combining office space and conference space – would add to the location’s marketability both locally and abroad.
"[Rentable] space would be 68 822 square feet…The Ministry of Tourism currently occupies the southwestern corner of the building. ??They will be relocated to the main office area and that will free up 10 000 square feet of space that can be used to enhance the conference facility offerings…
"Organisers not only want the actual floor space where the conference is taking place, but they also need the support to back up the conference activity, and so we will enhance the facilities, but also by having that additional space…that will be a plus," the Tourism Minister revealed.
Noting that "Barbados can do more" with regard to attracting conferences to the island, Minister Sealy acknowledged that progress was being made in this area, notably with the hosting of three major events this year – the Barbados Network Consultation Diaspora Conference in August; the African Diaspora Heritage Trail Conference in September; and the FOROMIC XV 2012, which will be held for the first time in the English-speaking Caribbean, in October.??
The Tourism Minister remarked that "…with the investment we are making, we can have even more conference activity that will benefit Barbados’ tourism and development."