Concerns have been raised by the business sector in Tobago, over the Central Government’s extended delay in meeting the commitments made at the meeting held with the THA and the private sector at the Coco Reef Hotel in Tobago on February 23, 2012.
THA Chief Secretary Orville London wrote Finance Minister Winston Dookeran last Thursday (24th May 2012) reminding him that among the major commitments were “the establishment of a Government Loan Guarantee Programme” and “formation of a Tobago Tourism Development Fund.” London further stated that he was informed that a Cabinet Note was prepared to give effect to those discussions but to date, there has been no implementation.
In his letter London said the Tobago Tourism Sector continues to face tremendous challenges and pointed out that the THA has responded through a number of initiatives including financial assistance for the upgrade of plants, and the implementation of an aggressive marketing plan. “However,” he added, “many of the hotels, guest-houses and restaurants remain heavily indebted to the banks.” He recalled that at a recent meeting with the Tobago Division of the T&T Chamber of Commerce, he was informed that six establishments were forced to cease operations because of their inability to meet their financial commitments.
London said the THA and the Tourism Sector in Tobago continue to be appreciative of the concern shown and the commitments made by the Ministers and officials who participated at the Coco Reef meeting. However, the delay in implementing those measures geared towards alleviating the plight of the tourism stakeholders has created further frustration, and even despair.
The Tobago Chief Secretary told the Finance Minister that in those circumstances, he was reiterating his appeal for him to expedite the establishment of the Government Loan Guarantee Programme; the formation of the Tobago Tourism Development Fund and the implementation of any other measure which could assist the Tobago Tourism Sector, at this time.
London said he remained available for further discussions with the Finance Minister at any mutually convenient time.