Tag: spotlightTT

Govt to give support to Sunwing’s investment in Turtle Beach

“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.

A flood of relief- Citizens unite to help victims

The very best of the people of Trinidad had emerged this weekend, a heart-warming sight to say the least.

The flood that caused misery for thousands is being replaced by a flood of caring people all over the country who are rallying to provide for those hit hardest.

Citizens are opening their doors to the homeless, providing hot meals, donating food, beds, clothes, and coming into the flood-stricken areas in east, north and central Trinidad in trucks and boats to rescue trapped people and to help clean homes, power wash yards and provide hands-on help.

Navin Kalpoo of Kalpoo Tours used his powered-engine boat to get to stranded families yesterday.

Kalpoo said: “I was brought up in a culture and atmosphere to help others when they are in need. Seeing the devastation this flood caused and how many people affected, we could not simply sit back and look on, we had to act.

He said that they used boats on Saturday and yesterday they delivered donated items, specifically to those people in rural communities who could not access assistance before due to the high flood waters.

I think what other people are doing now and that seeing how many are offering to help, it’s like a ripple effect to kindness. No one asked for this disaster but it happened and we have to help and this is what is means to share that Trini spirit,” said Kalpoo.

Members of the Defence Force who embarked on rescue missions Friday night into Saturday were also seen giving aid as they assisted in the clean-up process at Greenvale La Horquetta on Sunday.

He said people willing to help should not wait for an invitation to do so, nor should they wait to act after observing what the Government is doing.

In some parts of central and south Trinidad, which was spared the worst of the bad weather and floods, there are organisations and groups gathering items for donation.

Presentation College in San Fernando is just one of those groups urging the public to donate items at the school.

According to teacher Andrew Benjamin, since Tropical Storm Bret, a Flood Relief Drive was established by pupils, staff and former pupils to provide items to those flood stricken victims.

Donations such as canned foods, beverages, mattresses, pillows, clothing, tarpaulins, first aid supplies and cleaning supplies can be donated.

The San Fernando JAMA Masjid is also welcoming citizens to drop off any relief items at its mosque located at #68 Mucurapo Street, San Fernando. The items will be sorted and delivered to the relevant relief agencies to assist flood victims.

An employee at Roopnarine Hardware Limited, Gopal Maharaj said one of the ways in which the company is helping people is through using two of its trucks to aid people trapped by floods.

Yesterday, Maharaj said more trucks are expected to be used as there are many people who are still trapped in their homes and are in need of being helped.

If your vehicle was damaged by the recent floods, Ace Automotive is offering to do the repairs free.

As a means of giving back to those affected by the floods, Anil Hosein, owner of Ace Automotive in Chaguanas said that given this was a national disaster, many people would have already incurred high cost of living and he wanted to help ease the burdens of those struggling by offering free mechanical and electrical works for vehicles, as this was his way of helping.

He said he may not have the financial capacity to help but through utilizing his trade as a mechanic and electrician he can help those in need.

“We can’t just look at what the politicians are doing and do nothing ourselves. We have to help. Today it is them but tomorrow it could be us. We cannot be a bunch of selfish people and I think the business people need to come out and show greater support.

I am offering my services and this is the first time I am doing it. Since Saturday I have received over 200 phone calls asking for my services. Now understand this, some of those calling have two and three vehicles and they can afford to pay to have this done, and those who I wish to help is someone who really struggling and only have one vehicle and have to use that one vehicle for everything. Someone like that is in need of assistance,” he said.

Another business owner who wished not to be named said supporting each other in these difficult times is what is needed.

He said despite the Government’s offer of $25 million for flood victims, immediate necessitates are needed for relief.

He said there has been an overwhelming support for flood victims and people have really come out in aid of helping through donating items, organizing meals and using their personal vehicles for rescuing others.

Corporate T&T have also been making generous donations to Flood Relief efforts.

Chair­man of the ANSA McAL Group of Com­pa­nies, Nor­man Sab­ga, an­nounced a one mil­lion dol­lar ini­tial do­na­tion in goods to the ar­eas af­fect­ed and more sup­port has al­so come through:

The Agos­ti­ni Group of Com­pa­nies

The Pres­tige Group of Com­pa­nies

Sagi­cor

Dairy Dairy

Col­in Sab­ga (Ice­land)

Fire­One Fire­works and Fine­line Dis­trib­u­tors.

Had­co

Massy

Blue Wa­ters

Glob­al Brands (Piz­za Boys)

RBC donating $300,000

Young hopes to announce finalization of Sandals deal by November

On CNC3 News’ Business Watch segment Wednesday night with Judy Kanhai, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Stuart Young was interviewed on the Sandals Project in Tobago.

Afra Raymond, former JCC President filed papers for the release of the MOU on the Sandals Project. Young began by expressing that Mr. Jones was not involved in discussions between the Government and Sandals at this stage and that the Sandals beaches transaction he hopes would take place in Tobago is markedly different from what has happened throughout the rest of the Caribbean.

He said that the Government was still in negotiations and discussions of a management contract utilizing the Sandals brand. He reiterated that the uniqueness of the deal they’re looking at in Tobago is that of exactly what has happened with Hyatt and Hilton. The Government is going to build the plant, open the plant and Sandals is going to manage it. He said that the nature of this deal, though not finalized, is taking a very different approach from other Sandals resorts across the Caribbean such as Jamaica, Grenada, Barbados, Antigua and St. Lucia.

Young informed that Sandals has officially written to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago indicating the serious competitive disavantage this deal would put them in. Sandals is an international brand competing in the tourism market and has officially indicated to the Government that releasing the MOU would put them at a market disadvantage.

Young fervently expressed that there is no secret as it relates to the Sandals project. The tourism industry is very competitive and if the country is to attract sophisticated investors in tourism and other competitive areas, there is something called confidentiality that we as a country need to be mindful of.

He said, “At this stage, the government has not finalized a negotiated deal with Sandals, we are still in the process of doing that and that should not be jeapordized. At the right time, things can be disclosed.”

Young said that as of yesterday, he had been speaking with international lawyers for them to finalize the deal with Sandals which he expects to take place within upcoming weeks and hopes to return to T&T within the month of November with the announcement of finalization of the deal.

He further stated that any concessions granted to this project in Tobago would be concessions to the people of T&T who would be owning the hotel, so these would not be concessions granted to Sandals for their profitability but the real beneficiaries would be the taxpayers and citizens of T&T who would own the Sandals plant.

“Whatever concessions we work out with this deal, we are prepared to offer to the rest of the Hoteliers in Tobago. So it is not a matter of the other Hoteliers being put at a disadvantage when it comes to concessions,” Young said.

He also acknowledged that a new Terminal is being put in place at the Tobago airport and on the agricultural side, they want farmers to be prepared, and based on the expertise of Sandals, they would help farmers to get up to speed with their agricultural produce in being able to supply to Sandals together with some importation.

Young expressed that the Sandals brand attracts international tourists to the destination and the massive uplift that the project would bring to Tobago would not only be beneficial to the people of Tobago, but by extension, Trindad as well.

When asked about the issue of crime in Trinidad impacting tourism in Tobago, Young said that the building of a substantial police station is being planned near the project site and he urged not to call the issue of crime upon ourselves.

He closed by emphasizing, “Do not for a moment think that this present Government is not sophisticated enough and does not have the interests and the benefit of the people of Trinidad and Tobago at heart. It is exactly what we’ve been doing in the energy sector and we’ve been negotiating for the first time in a very long time, deals that are beneficial to the people of Trinidad and Tobago. We will do the same with Sandals.”

To see full interview: Sandals Project