“Sandals isn’t the only thing. There are other prospects. And if you aim for the sky and you fall into the clouds, you’re still way above the ground.”
So said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley as he yesterday announced his determination to “redouble” his efforts to develop Trinidad and Tobago, pledging not to be deterred by his “disappointment” over the Sandals’ withdrawal from Tobago.
But all may not be lost for the island’s tourism sector, as Canadian-based Sunwing Travel Group wants the Government to invest in Turtle Beach Hotel which they recently acquired.
The announcement was made by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday during his first Conversation with the Media at Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.
Last week, the PM met with Sunwing’s CEO Stephen Hunter and other executives of the airline company where they discussed Sunwing’s having an interest in an increased presence in Tobago, including an interest in State-owned Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort.
Sunwing provides direct flights from Toronto to Tobago.
The airline, which is the largest integrated travel company in North America, recently acquired a chain of Rex Resorts’ Caribbean hotels and is now the owner of Turtle Beach Hotel in Tobago.
The PM was asked what plans his Government has to improve Tobago’s tourism thrust with Sandals pulling out of the project, to which he said Sunwing was one investor they were looking at.
Having acquired Turtle Beach Hotel, Rowley said Sunwing wants to upgrade the hotel to their standard.
“They also think it does not have enough rooms. So they want to increase the number of rooms…they want to upgrade it to a five-star hotel. They asked for Government support for that and we said yes.”
He said Sunwing’s prospect was to build between 200 to 300 rooms.
He also said, however, Sunwing was faced with one problem as “the current road between Blackrock and Plymouth passes right in front of the hotel’s lobby.”
Some people in Tobago, Rowley said, took the position that the road belongs to them and “nobody must stop them from passing there.”
He said this development, was not the lagoon, No Man’s Land or the mangrove.
“It is the use of a road that was built to connect Blackrock to Plymouth and to prevent traffic from passing through a hotel if they use the land they have on the other side,” he said.
The PM said this was a matter for the Tobago House of Assembly to handle.
“We are going to have some interesting days ahead. The Government also has other sites in Tobago,” he noted.
The PM said there were some private sector sites they can utilise. “We are going to encourage people to invest into Tobago,” he said.