Chief Secretary Dennis Says Airport Expansion Will Benefit All Tobagonians and by Extension the Country

Chief Secretary, the Honourable Ancil K. Dennis, is encouraging residents of Tobago to see the ANR Robinson International Airport expansion project as a benefit to the people, economy and overall development of the island.

Mr. Dennis says an upgraded and improved airport of international standards is expected to generate significant income for residents and by extension the economy of Trinidad and Tobago.  Additionally, Chief Secretary Dennis notes that positive first and last impressions are important for Tobago’s image as visitors arrive at and depart the island’s shores.

Chief Secretary Dennis indicates he is cognizant that a new airport is not the only element required for an improved tourism product.   He notes, however, that the Tobago Tourism Agency Limited (TTAL), in conjunction with the Division of Tourism, Culture and Transportation (DTCT), is using the absence of international flights, due to border closure, as an opportune time to:

  1. Upgrade sites and attractions, inclusive of the Buccoo Boardwalk, and digitise the tourism product.
  2. Review sector policies and regulations.
  3. Increase the number of properties with the WTTC Safe Travel Stamp (104 properties approved).
  4. Finalise Blue Flag certification for Kings Bay by year end (2021), as part of a bigger Green assets thrust to induce travel.
  5. Continue management of the Tourism Accommodation Relief Grant (125 properties signed on).
  6. Partner with the Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute (THTI) to commence customer service training with internationally recognized service training provider ‘Upservice’.
  7. Collaborate with the Port Authority to reposition the Ferry experience.
  8. Partner with the Tobago Festivals Commission Limited to promote the island’s culture.
  9. Advance marketing arrangements that will benefit the sector when the country’s international borders reopen.
  10. Continue to engage and increase awareness among all stakeholders, including the general public.

The Chief Secretary indicates that he is not oblivious to the discomfort faced by the residents who have to relocate as a result of the expansion project, as the Government of Trinidad and Tobago seeks to further develop and advance Tobago.  He emphasizes that negotiations are ongoing and, so far, have resulted in 106 of 132 property owners agreeing to settlements, with 81 already receiving compensation for their properties and the remaining currently being processed.

Mr. Dennis further gives the assurance that residents will be compensated for their properties in accordance with market rates.  Compensation includes:

  1. Residential land only – $57-$150 per sq. ft. {this represents the market rate for residential land (only) to be acquired. However, during the negotiations, properties were negotiated between $90 and $125 per sq. ft. based on what actually existed in each particular case e.g. land size, land location, land use and Town and Country Planning Division (TCPD) approvals etc.}
  2. Commercial land only – $120-$200 per sq. ft. – {this range was developed for smaller-sized commercial land only properties, which in most cases, were found to be a mix of commercial and residential use. However, outside of this range there are large parcels where, if no clear TCPD classification is provided and any other applicable criteria, will fall within the range $75 to $95 per sq. ft. In some cases, there might be consideration for best use possible for the land, notwithstanding that there may be no clear TCPD classification etc.}

Additionally, Chief Secretary Dennis says the THA has further aided the relocation process by providing significantly subsidized developed lands at Shirvan and COVE Developments at $30 per sq. ft. and $50 per sq. ft., respectively.

Chief Secretary Dennis advises any affected residents who believe that they are being treated unfairly or are unable to move forward and lead a comfortable life as a result of the relocation, to email him at ancildennis.tha@gmail.com.

Mr. Dennis reaffirms the commitment of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) to continue to work diligently to improve the economy and quality of life of every resident of Tobago.

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