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Mottley: Tobago tourism in crisis
Wendell Mottley, a former finance minister, says Tobago’s tourism sector is in crisis and steps must be taken to revive the industry.
In his contribution to the 10th Annual Tobago Economic and Business Outlook Conference at the Magdalena Beach and Golf Resort, Mottley said he could not understand how tourism-based economies in the region are recording increases in tourist arrivals, while Tobago is heading for a slump.
He added that the island has a crucial role to play in the economic adjustment of T&T.
“At a time when the Caribbean industry has been growing by 17 per cent, Tobago is due for a decline this year. At a time when the Caribbean industry is realising room rates of US$250 a night, Tobago struggles at US$150. These are reflections of the fact that we have come through this time of plenty and we haven’t had to work as hard as we should have been working at our own business,” he said.
Mottley said there is need for better connection between hoteliers and the Tobago House of Assembly when budgeting for promotions and to attract Trinidadians and other visitors.
He called on Tobagonians to take a fresh approach to the agricultural sector, exploring areas such as aquaphonics and the green house method of growing fruits.
“This (tourism) can be a transformative investment. There are environmental issues, there is the commercial nature of the deal to be done, but these are problems to be resolved. Tobago, to be assured of putting food on the table in the future with the constraints on the Ministry of Finance, has to take this opportunity and work at it,” Mottley said.
“It cannot turn its back on this kind of opportunity, bearing in mind our present reality. We have to do it quickly, because from what I see sitting on that energy task force, T&T is going to go for a very, very difficult year in 2017. We may bottom out in 2018 and by 2020, the energy sector, if we do our thing right, will be kicking again but you know what happens once that happens. So we need to do the hard work on diversification and Tobago’s role in the tourism sector before 2020.”
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