New Caribbean network launches

The former governor of the Cayman Islands, Bruce Dinwiddy, officially launched the Rider Levett Bucknall CaribbeanIntelligence initiative in London last week.

The networking alliance aims to foster business links between the UK and Caribbean countries.

The 30-strong event held at Durrants Hotel in London also saw the launch of the Rider Levett Bucknall Caribbean Cost Commentary.

‘I am very pleased to accept the role of patron to the CaribbeanIntelligence network,’ said Mr. Dinwiddy, ‘and am delighted that Rider Levett Bucknall has also invested in producing a regular cost commentary which will provide invaluable market intelligence for all those doing business between the UK and the Caribbean.’

The cost survey, released by global property and construction practice Rider Levett Bucknall, contains comprehensive cost and construction data from the Caribbean construction market place.

According to the report the Caribbean construction industry reflects the global construction markets, which continue to struggle in difficult economic circumstances.

Due to its heavy reliance on tourism-related activity, the construction sector in most Caribbean countries either registered a slowdown in growth or a fall-off in activity, the report said.

The credit crunch in particular has led to reduced inflows mainly for hotel and condominium construction.

The regional performance was supported however by the public sector, where activity focused on improvements to roads, hospitals and schools, whereas in the private sector work continued on residential construction.

‘With reducing tourist numbers, hotel supply is being curtailed as planned hotels are either delaying or stopping construction,’ said Martyn Bould, chairman of Rider Levett Bucknall in the Caribbean.

He added: ‘The business model for mixed use projects of using deposits from regional buyers to cover the financing of hotels is no longer viable.’

The survey report detailed that there are currently 105 hotel projects under development in the Caribbean, including 54 of them under construction. But it is likely that the remaining 51 projects will be delayed until the economic situation improves, the report said.

The survey of construction costs found a stabilisation and even drop of the costs in some areas to reflect the difficult market conditions. This comes after a sustained period of significant cost increases which derived from the strong economic performance in recent years, the report concluded.

The cost survey uses cost data to derive indexed measures of relative costs of construction between markets. The data is gathered and compiled by the consultancy’s 80 global offices, including Barbados, the Cayman Islands and St Lucia.