Sandals drops plan for hotel project in Tobago

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

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SANDALS Resorts International (SRI) announced yesterday that after careful consideration of its current priorities and existing expansion plans it will unfortunately not be moving forward with the proposed development in Tobago at this time.

The proposal was for the construction of a 750-room Sandals and Beaches Resort, which Trinidad and Tobago Finance Minister Colm Imbert last year said would represent a major turning point for the economy of Tobago.

“We would like to thank Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his Government for inviting us to explore the possibility of bringing the Sandals brand to Tobago just over two years ago, and for their tremendous support throughout this process. While such a project was not in our original short-term plans, we have always found Tobago to be an amazing destination with tremendous potential, and we signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with the Government to guide these discussions and explore the opportunity further,” Sandals said in a statement yesterday.

“While this project is not right for us at this time, we commend both Prime Minister [Keith] Rowley and his Government on their vision for developing Tobago, and we wish them every success with future plans for the island,” added the resort group which is owned by the chairman of this newspaper.

Sandals' decision was met with an expression of regret by the Tobago Business Chamber, which said it hoped there could still be “some way of salvaging” the deal.

“The Tobago Business Chamber is convinced that with the billions of dollars of investment, in construction, job creation, training, and service delivery attendant upon such projects, it is possible for the population of Tobago, as a whole, to benefit and develop and derive spin-offs from such developments.

“The possible loss of the associated projects, such as the airport expansion, the marina, golf course, and other infrastructural developmental works, will also spell tremendous and significant economic and foreign investment losses to Tobago and Tobagonians,” the chamber said in a statement.

“As a business chamber, we are always focused on facilitating and encouraging business and investment and development, and we remain convinced that such business, development and investment can be done while still preserving and maintaining and nurturing the natural environment and the eco-systems of the island in keeping with the maintenance of its natural beauty and pristine status as a paradise which can manage both the competing forces of development and infrastructural improvement along with preservation of the heritage and environment for future generations.

“It is the hope of the Tobago Business Chamber that all sides will be able to return to the table to resume negotiations and to find workable solutions to meet the aims and objectives of the two competing ideals.

“It is also the hope of the Tobago Business Chamber that, one way or another, Tobago recognises the absolute and urgent need for brand name hotels to help boost and promote its tourism thrust,” said the chamber.

According to the chamber, the international significance of a major brand brings with it a certain pull in terms of increased destination branding, destination awareness, greater airlift, greater interest by other airlines, greater improvements in standards and quality of service delivery, and greater economic benefits all round.


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