Small guest houses to get upgrade incentive too

Guest houses and hotels of less than six rooms in Tobago are now included in Central Government’s Tourism Accommodation Upgrade Programme, launched on March 1.

Deputy Chief Secretary Assemblyman Tracy Davidson-Celestine, who is also Secretary of Tourism and Transportation, is pleased that visitor accommodations in Tobago are now benefitting from the programme, which for years has rebated property owners a percentage of their room upgrade costs.

“One of the major changes to the programme that was made by the new Cabinet, upon the advice of the DOTT (Division of Tourism and Transportation) and the wider THA (Tobago House of Assembly), is that with the number of small properties and guest houses on the island, there was a need to allow those guesthouses and hotels with fewer than six rooms to also benefit from the arrangement,” she said at the post Executive Council media briefing at the Administrative Complex, Calder Hall.

Such properties can benefit from a 20 per cent rebate of upgrade costs of rooms and related facilities, up to a maximum of $70,000.

She said the largest properties of up to 150 rooms will get a rebate of 25 per cent (maximum $750,000), adding that: “the idea is to bring more rooms on the island and properties up to internationally competitive standards and therefore enhance the quality of the visitor experience and satisfaction.”

Davidson-Celestine said the initiative will improve the quality of the product, giving an ease to property owners and encouraging them to upgrade. She said it also will lead to more investment in the sector by existing owners, and also additional economic activity on the island.

“The upgrade programme will provide an incentive for the upgrade of properties to first level to meet and/or exceed the Trinidad and Tobago standard requirements for tourist accommodation,” she stated.

The Secretary said she has also embarked on a “one on one” campaign to visit tourism-related properties across the island, following  the programme’s approval for Tobago.

She has so far visited Eden’s Door, Old Donkey Cart, Bacolet Beach Club, Villa Being and Native Abode. She plans to visit more bed and breakfast properties later this month.

Davidson-Celestine said several issues were discussed during her visit, including occupancy levels, and challenges and opportunities within the sector.

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