"The abandonment [of this project] in Una [Bahia] is the result of a climate that was created for us and that one day I still have to understand why. It has no basis. It was in an area that has no trace of ever having had any indigenous life," said the president of Vila Galé, on the margins of the 31st National Congress of Hospitality and Tourism, organised by the Association of Hospitality Industry of Portugal (AHP), which ends on Friday in Viana do Castelo.
On 18 November, the Vila Galé group announced that it would abandon the project for the construction of a resort in the region of Bahia, which was under criticism for being planned for a site of potential indigenous reservation. This argument has always been refuted by the group.
"Both the congress, the Una city hall, the federal government, Embratur, the ministry of tourism, the ministry of agriculture, everyone supported us in this project," he said, adding that the support of Brazilian entities will lead the group to create another project in the same region.
When the cancellation was announced at the beginning of the week, Vila Galé had already mentioned that in April 2017 the government of Bahia and the municipality of Una invited them to make an investment in a mega-resort to help the development of the Una region, having established a partnership with the company owning the land, guaranteeing that they carried out all the studies and projects, which were approved by the competent authorities and that, throughout this time, no claim or claim arose, despite the fact that the news of the project was public and well-known throughout the region.
The group stated in a statement that there are no signs of indigenous occupation or use within a radius of many kilometres and there is no indigenous reservation decreed for the area in question nor is there any plan to become one.
"Three previous governments passed, with several ministers of justice and none of them approved the demarcation of indigenous lands," the Portuguese company said.
"However, since this is a delicate issue that arouses emotional states by some sectors, we have been accused of inconsistent and serious falsehoods,” the group criticised in the statement.
Vila Galé then revealed that it would be forced to abandon the project, that is, although the projects were approved and had the explicit support of the municipality of Una, the state government of Bahia and the federal government's tourism agencies, because it is a work of greater economic and social relevance, also accusing a few without reason harm an entire population that finds itself deprived of the opportunity to have a job in a prestigious project.
"It is not in our interest that a resort hotel in Vila Galé starts out with the imminence of a climate of war, albeit unjust and unfounded," the group criticised.
The development is estimated to create more than 500 direct jobs and around 1,500 indirect jobs, according to Vila Galé.