Prime Minister Meets With Tobago Stakeholders

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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

Meeting Described as Fruitful

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO — A meeting between Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and
Tobago stakeholders at the Magdalena Grand Beach Resort on Monday has been
described as fruitful.

The Trinidad and Tobago Guardian reported that a high-powered ministerial team
led by Rowley, a THA team led by chief secretary Kelvin Charles, and Tobago
stakeholders led by Tobago Chamber president Demi John Cruickshank, seemed
satisfied following the four-hour, closed-door meeting.

The meeting, which was initiated by Cruikshank, according to the Guardian, was
geared at finding solutions to the island’s strained tourism product after it suffered a
decline in 2017 due to the problems of the air and sea bridges causing Tobago’s
economy to worsen.

Speaking at the press conference Monday, Cruikshank said he was pleased with
the outcome.

The Trinidad Guardian quoted him as saying: “It was a very very fruitful meeting. I
think we went into detail in terms of each item step- by- step and I think the private
sector is a lot clearer in terms of what the Government’s plans are for Tobago and I
hope that in a very short space of time we can see the economy of Tobago on the
path of growth and I hope that in the very near future we will see a resolve of a
number of the issues that we as the private sector has highlighted to the Prime
Minister.”

Responding to questions about the declining tourism sector, Rowley said several
proposals were put forward by the Government which have not yet kicked in. He
said Tobago stakeholders also offered suggestions

“Some of the proposals which they see as solutions may not be the possible
answer., They tell us that they were hard-hit and we believe, by the unreliability of
the connection to Trinidad, we are going to fix that and the sea ferry which is largely
for the movement from Trinidad to Tobago. We are now looking at the possibility in
the not-too-distant future having the vessels on the route, the Spirit which has been
on dry dock for quite some time is expected to do some sea trials next month and
hopefully if the sea trials go well it will be back into service and that will plug the
hole there,” the PM was quoted as saying.

The PM added: “The Express goes on dry dock and we do not expect that dry
docking to be as extensive as the Spirit. We just committed to buying a third ferry
and we will be owning those three vessels so we will be having three vessels
available, dedicated to the Tobago routes. In a matter of months that should put an
end to the passenger ferry issue.”

On the issue of the air bridge, the Prime Minister was reported as saying that there
is room for improvement on all sides, but mainly the utilisation of the service by
citizens. He said over 1 million seats will be produced for the Tobago route
“We have been producing over 1 million seats to Tobago and therefore it is wrong
to say that Tobago is cut off and not serviced. There are 14000 flights per year, I
mean 14000 flights per year that cannot be dismissed and those are subsidised
flights and we want to work towards improvement and the utilization , so CAL will
continue to meet with the THA,” he also said.

Rowley said between CAL and the THA and the business community “we will look
at some improvement in the scheduling and of course a request was made CAL to
try and bring a direct service in from North America to Tobago.

The Prime Minister also said the Sandals project was still in the pipeline. He said
Tobago’s tourism sector would benefit from a Sandals investment commitment.
He reminded that a MoU exists between the Government and the Sandals brand.

The project is said to be at the survey stage, according to the Guardian report.

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