Tourism Secretary not satisfied with ANR Robinson airport repairs

Secretary of Tourism and Transportation Tracy Davidson-Celestine is not happy with upgrades at the ANR Robinson International Airport in Crown Point, Tobago.

Davidson-Celestine said the island was promised a new airport but is getting a refurbished terminal building. The rate at which the work at the terminal building is being done is also cause for concern.

“I am really not satisfied with what has transpired to date,” the Secretary said during the weekly media briefing on Wednesday at the Administrative Complex in Calder Hall.

“We expected a new airport but after those discussions, it evolved into repairs costing about $44 million. The question was asked whether that couldn’t have been Phase One of the new airport that was requested. That request was not acceded to and to date we are seeing very slow repairs to the facility.”

Davidson-Celestine also has issues with the location for domestic check-in, compared with international check-in departures.

“We are hoping that (our suggestions) would have been listened to and there would be some turn around in where domestic check-in would be, as opposed to international checking areas,” she said.

Where air travel is concerned, the Division of Tourism and Transportation is also seeking to increase the number of direct flights to Tobago, and to ensure they bring more visitors to the island. Davidson-Celestine and her team met with Condor Airlines of Germany and Brazil’s GOL Airlines.

Condor, the Secretary said, is finalising discussions with Air China and China Airways, which could help the Division target the lucrative Chinese market. Chinese construction workers presently use Condor to travel to Trinidad via Tobago, she stated. Discount rates for the Scandinavian and Baltic markets were also discussed, which could also benefit Tobago.

Talks with GOL earlier this month centred on a proposed revised fare structure to cater for high and low seasons, arrangements for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, and the establishment of a GOL sales office in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Secretary also addressed the tourism activities on the island, saying that the move to establish canopy tours at the Main Ridge Forest Reserve will boost the eco-adventure tourism niche on the island. The Division is also upgrading 23 historical sites, attractions and tourism facilities at a cost of $14 million, she revealed.

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