While by international standards the 500-person seating capacity of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre remains decidedly modest, its comprehensive renovation and recent reopening underlines the importance which Guyana attaches to drawing global attention to itself by serving as host to an increasing number of international events – Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) – of one sort or another, an article published in the current (2018-2019) issue of Guyana Invest, the official publication of the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) says.
The article focuses attention on the significance of the recent reopening for public events of the Chinese-built Conference Centre following a protracted renovation and upgrading exercise after the facility, originally completed in 2006 had provided service for a decade.
Much of the short essay on the significance of the upgrading exercise from which the facility benefitted focused on the need to better equip it to make a more fulsome contribution to the opening of “windows of investment opportunities” for the various economic sectors of Guyana, not least the country’s ‘emerging hydrocarbon sector” within the context of the “widening range of products and services including conferences and training facilities, infrastructure and support services.”
It was the global recognition of the role of modern event facilities in contributing to the global marketing of the country that led to the creation of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre in the first place and its recent renovation and upgrading, the article suggests, points to the increasingly important role that it will be required to play in securing “a slice of the MICE market” for Guyana, going forward. What the gift from the Government of the People’s Republic of China did, the article says, was to significantly complement what, up to that time, were the efforts of both government and the private sector to invest in “small and medium-scale conference rooms.
Interestingly, the Guyana Invest article, alludes to what it sees as the role which the Arthur Chung Conference Centre has played in acting as a ‘precursor’ to the arrival here of international hotel brands like Marriott and Ramada which, along with the older Pegasus, have served to raise the “quality standards bar…..for modern accommodation, large conference and banqueting space with support services.”
Some of the critical enhancements covered in the recent US$7 million renovation include increased seating in the facility’s main conference hall (which is now up to 500). Seating in the Eastern and Western Conference Rooms has been increased to 220 and 120 persons, respectively. The strategic installation of sliding walls allow for five “break-out rooms” each with a 60-person capacity.
The upgrading exercise does not stop there. Following the enhancement works, the Centre’s Computer Laboratory “is now equipped with twenty internet-ready computers.” It is, as well, equipped to serve as a training facility and Media Centre. To these facilities have been added a modernized conference secretariat, Business Centre, Clinic, Dining Hall and Kitchen.
Conscious of the increasingly demanding role that the facility will now have to play in the hosting of important national and international gatherings, the rehabilitation exercise has included the installation of a new Digital Conference System capable of translating and relaying three different languages, simultaneously, a key asset in a multi-lingual global community.
What the ‘new’ Arthur Chung Convention Centre has done is to raise awareness of the importance of ensuring that adequate skills are available locally to undertake the multi-level management tasks that inhere in ensuring that the facility is up to the task of maintaining high standards of service delivery. It cannot be lost to the beneficiaries of this important gift from the People’s Republic of China that standards setting accompanied by continual orientation and training designed to ensure that those standards are maintained is a critical element in the exercise of promoting Guyana and what it has to offer to the outside world.