The resuscitation of the tourism industry is critical to Tobago’s development.
This is stated in the Tobago Comprehensive Economic Development Plan, 2013-2017 prepared by Kairi Consultants Limited for the Tobago House of Assembly (THA). It added that besides distribution, commerce and construction, which are non-tradable sectors that respond to any expansion in the economy, there are initiatives in selected sectors that will contribute to the transformation and diversification of Tobago. These are tourism, agriculture and agro-processing, fisheries, manufacturing and natural gas processing and electricity generation.
It said the recently announced Central Government guarantee of loans to hotel properties contributes one plank in the rebuilding of the industry while the Plan will involve re-branding Tobago as a destination, the addition of at least 1,500 quality rooms, including 5-star rooms, training for various levels of personnel, including focused programmes for smaller owner/operators, upgrade of information and communication technologies, development of ancillary activities, rebuilding of the terminal at the ANR Robinson International Airport, and provision of support infrastructure by the THA.
The Plan noted that an important component of ancillary services and activities is the creative sector with the entertainment arts being central within this category and said the development of a Tobago Tourism Plan is critical to these proposals.
It said the continued expansion of the agriculture and agro-processing sector, with forward links with fresh market supplies to hotels and guest houses, the control of praedial larceny, the introduction of a Tobago Eco-foods label and certification system, and development of industrial organisation among small-scale producers and processors will be required to deal with scale challenge.
The Plan said it is critical that the issue of land distribution and land ownership be addressed in the short term.
It suggested the revival of the fisheries sector through exploitation beyond near-shore waters, but with strategies to avoid over-fishing, and development of a strong processing sector. It added that the initiatives proposed in the 2006 – 2010 Plan are fundamental to the establishment of a viable and well managed fishing industry and must now be applied in this implementation period.