NAPARIMA MP Rodney Charles, in a statement on Monday, alleged that a top official of Sandals Resort, which is being considered to build a resort in Tobago, had insinuated that TT nationals are nasty.
Charles is demanding an apology from Sandals’ deputy chairman Adam Stewart for, what he described as, recent pejorative comments against our country and its citizens. He asked why the Government is allowing foreigners to insult TT with impunity. Charles said, “Stewart reportedly, in a video conference, dictated to us the need for cleanliness, stating that if there was a fete the night before in our country, the following day there should not be chicken bones on the ground.
“This is a not-too-subtle way of saying that we are nasty. If a TT citizen uttered that comment it would not matter but not a foreigner in a public forum.”
Charles also alleged Stewart had chided local immigration officers for being crude and unwelcoming, and needing training in hospitality.
“Adam Stewart cannot utter such nonsense to any self-respecting country like the US or even Jamaica.”
He also said, “A few weeks ago, I was on a Caribbean cruise via Fort Lauderdale and on my return to that city, immigration officers diligently, and for three hours in total, perused all passengers for proper documentation and individually questioned each person. There were no shortcuts because in the US, homeland security trumps every other consideration. including tourism which brings a reported US$14 billion annually to Ft Lauderdale.”
Charles was also upset that Stewart allegedly demanded an improved airport, despite TT’s current economic state.
Saying Barbados’ Minister of Industry recently said its Sandals resort did not cost that nation a dime, Charles lamented that TT seems ready to give up prime property in “No Man’s Land” plus bear the cost of building the facility, hiring more cleaners and building a new airport.
Charles urged prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to defend the country’s interest in the negotiations and not give away the country’s patrimony.
“In negotiations Sandals must bring money to the table as they did in Barbados. We must know how much.
“They must allow citizens access to beaches on which the resort is located. They must ensure that citizens have access to management level jobs. They must commit to buying fixed quotas of local produce and using local services wherever possible.”
Saying the Government must state the benefits of Sandals to TT, Charles said the cost to the taxpayer is $2 billion and growing, given the onerous financial demands made by Stewart.
Also recalling recent remarks by US former ambassador John Estrada about people with cocoa in the sun, Charles said TT seems to be a place where any foreigner can without provocation publicly say the worst things about TT.
“In both cases (Stewart and Estrada) our Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs did nothing, appearing either unwilling or unable to protect our pride and dignity.”