Augustine to meet Tobago businessmen next week

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Chief Secretary Farley Augustine speaks to the media at a press conference in Scarborough recently. – Photo courtesy THA

Chief Secretary Farley Augustine says he plans to meet with Tobago businessmen next week to discuss the future of the island’s tourism-based economy.

On Saturday, Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA) vice-president Carol-Ann Birchwood-James complained that the new Tobago House of Assembly (THA) administration had not yet met with hoteliers and other businessmen to discuss the tourism sector, which has been decimated by the effects of the covid19 pandemic over the past two years.

“Business is in a difficult situation in Tobago and in the new year, the new team will have to talk to the business community. They should have done that already, because they have to hit the ground running,” she had told Newsday.

“They have to talk to the stakeholders in order to jumpstart tourism…Our hoteliers are in dire straits and we need to get this tourism economy moving.”

On Tuesday, Augustine, who is also the Secretary of Finance and the Economy, assured the THA will meet with the businessmen.

“Of course we will be meeting. That is already in the pipeline,” he told Newsday.

Augustine, who was expected to host his first retreat on Wednesday, said “We will be reaching out to them for a meeting early next week.”

Newsday understands the hotel association has sent Secretary of Tourism, Culture, Antiquities and Transportation Tashia Burris a six-point plan for revitalising the tourism sector in the short term.

Birchwood-James said Burris has acknowledged receipt but is yet to set up a meeting.

She added strategies must be devised to put in place to revive Tobago’s economy.

Birchwood-James also called on the new THA to implement strategies to increase the vaccination rate on the island.

“We have to do something about our vaccination rates, because whether we like it or not, vaccinations are going to be the key for us to resurrect our tourism industry.”