Government forges massive strategic partnership to develop motorsport in Guyana

- South Dakota upgrades will diversify Guyana’s tourism package- Finance Minister

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By Akeem Greene

akeem@newsroom.gy

On the campaign trail in 2020, the then People’s Progressive Party presidential candidate Irfaan Ali made a promise to develop the South Dakota Circuit into a world-class facility, one that would massively boost the country’s sport tourism potential.

And, works in this regard are significantly advanced on phase one of that project, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

“March with us as we build an international standard racing track at South Dakota,” he told a massive gathering at Stewartville, West Coast Demerara.

With this in mind, the government, through the vision of Dr. Ali, has forged a strategic partnership with the Guyana Motor Racing and Sports Club (GMR&SC) to make that dream a reality, as it advances the country as a hotbed for tourists and a destination for sport tourism and entertainment.

Finance Minister Dr. Ashni, GMR&SC president Mahendra ‘Raj’ Boodhoo and other officials at the South Dakota Circuit (Photo: News Room/October 20, 2022)

This new development comes on the heels of the huge success of the first-ever Cricket Carnival, which coincided with the country’s hosting of the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) final for the first time.

It is anticipated that the expanded 1.6-mile track will be ready for the mega race meet on November 12-13, which is already sizing up to attract a slew of visitors to Guyana for the season-ending Caribbean race meet.

The two-day extravaganza, which will feature the final round of the Caribbean Radical Series, will see Guyana’s Kristian Jeffrey vying for the title against Kristian Boodoosingh of Trinidad.

The ultimate intention is that the upgrades will help to make Guyana the mecca for motorsport in the Caribbean. This expansion will be completed after just four months of intense work.

Former GMR&SC president Vishok Persaud makes a point to Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh in the presence of other officials of the GMR&SC (Photo: News Room/October 20, 2022)

Economic impact, tourism potential

With the first phase nearing completion, Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh, on the request of the President, visited the ongoing works in the company of executives of the GMR&SC and some racers for a tour of the new layout.

Dr. Singh viewed the major undertaking as a massive factor in diversifying the tourism packages that Guyana has to offer.

“We want to make this a major event, we want to build around races day, we want to be able to have world-class certifiable racing…and this is part of bringing the track up to a level that we can have internationally recognised racers here,” Dr. Singh said on his visit on Thursday.

The immediate aim of the club is to have an FIA Grade 3 course and with further investments, an FIA Grade 2, which would make it the premier racing facility in the Caribbean.

Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh greets Caribbean motor-racing stalwart Kevin Jeffrey (Photo: News Room/October 20, 2022)

According to Dr. Singh, these efforts are aimed at building an “experiential type of tourism”, and this is the same they want to achieve in other major sport disciplines and festival events.

The Finance Minister highlighted the economic success of the recent Cricket Carnival as a model the President is looking to replicate with other disciplines.

“We should not underestimate the economic impact of these activities…every event like this has multiple channels which generate spillovers for the economy. This is not a peripheral thing that we are allowing to evolve naturally or organically- the government has a policy of promoting a vibrant [and] dynamic tourism sector,” Dr. Singh conveyed.

According to Dr. Singh, as the “quality of life for Guyanese living in Guyana improves”, they will look for a “richer experience in their day-to-day lives”, and as their “disposable incomes increase” they will seek alternative experiences.

Meanwhile, GMR&SC President, Mahendra ‘Raj’ Boodhoo, thanked the Government for the overwhelming support in assisting with the raw material needed for the expansion. He also hailed the private partners for their input to develop the facility.

Ideally, Boodhoo is hoping that from Wednesday (October 26), some drivers can be allowed to begin testing the new layout.

The next phase will entail the installation of further safety apparatus and more secure fences, while phase three will be the construction of stands and other amenities.

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