The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) is providing a $15 million stimulus to six hoteliers to upgrade their properties to three-star status, Chief Secretary Orville London disclosed on Thursday. (17th February 2011)
He also disclosed that the Assembly has provided between $18 million and $19 million to over 200 small entrepreneurs under its Mirco Enterprise Assistance Fund. In addition, he said, the Assembly plans to construct a $100 million education complex to house the Education Division and a public swimming pool in Roxborough later this year.
“We are doing all these things to ensure job security and employment,” London told a Tobago Business Forum hosted by the Division of Finance and Enterprise Development at the Vanguard Hotel, Lowlands. Representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, Hotel and Tourism Association, Market Vendors Association the Agricultural Society, as well as the fish processing and construction sectors made recommendations on the way forward for the island.
He said it was recognised that the Assembly and the tourism sector drove the economy of Tobago and despite all the challenges no one was being sent home. He said once tourism fell, Tobago was going to suffer, agriculture will suffer and reef boat operators will also suffer.
“We know the Trinidad and Tobago economy was sluggish if not flat, the growth in the last quarter last year was just about 1.1 per cent and the 2011 output was just about two per cent. He noted that in Tobago visitor arrivals was at its lowest in five or six years while hotel occupancy as a result was down and all those services that were linked to the hotel industry or the tourism sector were in fact suffering.
He added that information from the Division of Finance and Enterprise Development indicated that revenue generated in Tobago had declined by about 35 per cent in the last year. He said in those circumstances what you have will be lay offs, reduced working hours, increases in loans default, persons using their overdraft facilities and therefore there was a problem.
London asked: “How do we respond? One of the things we can do is to panic, put your hands in the air and cuss everybody and of course the situation would get worst. He said the hosting of the Forum meant that “we do not intend to panic because I believe that economic recovery is linked to confidence and confidence is linked to proper planning and appropriate action and this to me is part of the problem of ensuring we have proper planning”.
He said: “We are very good at talking, reasonably good at planning, very poor at implementation and I expect that this is going to be the start of a process that will allow the decision-makers and all of us at various levels to have appropriate planning exercises that will lead to relevant action and the kind of implementation that will make a difference”