Tourism Minister Shamfa Cudjoe yesterday declared that Tobago is “good enough” for Sandals Resorts to build a hotel on the island. Cudjoe made this declaration in her contribution to the budget debate in the House of Representatives. Referring to earlier comments about the project from Barataria/San Juan MP Dr Fuad Khan, Cudjoe asked, “I have experienced Sandals myself, twice.”
Cudjoe told MPs she was excited, “about what Sandals can do for Tobago in improving the economy and providing jobs.” She then disclosed that Barbados is pursuing the establishment of a second Sandals resort while Sandals is seeking to build a fourth resort in St Lucia. Noting that Sandals has been in St Lucia since 1993, Cudjoe asked, “So Tobago not good enough for Sandals?” The minister told MPs that other countries in the region are seeking to boost their tourism product and have many international hotel brands in their territories.
“We need this kind of business in order to up the ante and raise our level of conversation in Tobago,” Cudjoe said. She added that recent conversations she has had with tourism stakeholders indicate an eagerness for the establishment of the Sandals resort.
Cudjoe was part of a ministerial delegation led by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley which met with a delegation from Sandals on October 4.
The Sandals delegation was led by its chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart.” A statement issued by the Office of the Prime Minister on October 6 said a memorandum of understanding for the project is expected to be executed shortly.
The resort will be built by Government and managed by Sandals. The discussions are also focused on the timing of the project and the use of private equity investment.
Cudjoe also said some 24 cruise calls are expected to take place in TT, starting with the arrival of the Caribbean Princess on Sunday. She said TT could see increased cruise ship visits this season as a result of damage in other Caribbean countries due to Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Cudjoe was optimistic the Maracas Beach upgrade project would be completed in time for Carnival 2018. She also said the ministry was pursuing improvements at Manzanilla and Las Cuevas beaches. The minister said the Go Trinbago app has been downloaded 80,000 times since it was launched this year and this is increasing awareness of TT’s tourism products.
She said this was being supplemented by the Lime 365 initiative.