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Sunday 15 September 2019
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Tobago hoteliers welcome Sandals deal

SASHA HARRINANAN

The Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA) welcomes the news that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed to build an 800-room Sandals resort in Tobago.

“The majority of our members welcome Sandals coming to Tobago because of the additional flights and increased destination marketing which it would provide,” THTA president Christopher James said yesterday. However, James could not provide details of the MoU since the association has not been involved in the talks or the signing.

Calls to the mobile phone of Tourism Minister Shamfa Cudjoe went unanswered but Newsday was able to speak with Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis. She said the MoU means Government and Sandals could now “work together on bringing the brand to Tobago.”

While “the details are to be worked out,” Robinson-Regis said, “The important thing is that Sandals is committed to bringing their brand to Tobago. They already have seven hotels in St Lucia, two hotels in Turks and Caicos, and they’re on their second or third hotel in Barbados.”

Noting Sandals is “an indigenous brand to the region,” having been started in Jamaica by businessman Gordon “Butch” Stewart, Robinson-Regis said Government was “very pleased to have the opportunity to work with Sandals in the same way that we worked with the Hyatt and the Hilton.” The MoU signing was announced in Parliament on Thursday by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley during his contribution to the 2018 budget debate. Rowley did not give specifics of when it was signed or how much Government intended to spend on construction of the resort, referred to as Sandals Golden Grove Tobago, on the Buccoo Estate in Buccoo. Asked when the MoU was signed, the Planning Minister said, “I think it was Wednesday.” This would mean the signing took place one week after Rowley and a Government team met with a Sandals delegation led by Stewart.

That October 4 meeting also focused on the timing of the project and the use of private equity investment.

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