Sandals remains a priority for Government, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said on Monday.
“That project is still with us and we will continue towards working to ensure that it is a reality. We signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Sandals group and I want to once more say something about the Sandals project; for the umpteenth time, we’ve chosen the Sandals group because we want what the Sandals group has to offer and I know of no other brand in the region which has the similar offerings, not the least of which is the ability in marketing the resort to lift significantly the air transport into Tobago to meet the adequate number of rooms and the quality of offerings from all the rooms in Tobago as Sandals and everywhere else, Rowley said.
“There is no other brand available to them and our position in the Government is if you need a dentist and the best dentist is available, you don’t go and look for a heart specialist. We are proceeding with this notwithstanding the ill-informed and some of them quite negative comments coming from other quarters. The project is still a project of priority for us and we are taking steps to ensure that we have the best opportunity to have that in the island,” he added.
Speaking at a sod-turning for construction of infrastructure for an expansion of the Cove Power Station in Lowlands on Monday, Rowley said very soon Government will engage in the process to have applications for the approvals and at that stage, consultations will take place in Tobago.
“When we have gone further into the process, what this process would be is that the Government is the main owner of the facility, whatever goes to the project, it goes to us the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” he stressed.
“We have put it out as a project that should attract some investment from the private sector and already we have got positive responses from Massy and from Guardian Holdings, expressing a willingness to invest in the Tobago Sandals project, and therefore we would continue on that path towards a successful celebration sometime in the not too distant future,” he said.
The plan to build a Sandals resort in Tobago was first announced by Rowley at a People’s National Movement (PNM) political meeting in St Joseph in June 2016. Then, he told supporters that a 750-room Sandals resort was earmarked for Tobago as Government seeks to make the island a tourism destination in a bid to generate revenue, jobs and foreign exchange. He said Government had come up with a tourism plan to diversify the economy and take the country out of the economic doldrums.
Speaking at the People’s National Movement Tobago Council’s annual convention in October, where he first announced the news that Government was looking for private sector funding for the project, Rowley also bashed the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) for its lack of support for the project.
“When we were in the Opposition we voted for 89 percent of the Bills that came to the Parliament by the UNC Government because we felt that those actions were good for the people of Trinidad and Tobago. We can’t get them now to vote for one item and that is because they are unpatriotic. They are not concerned about you, the country or the people.
“I heard that somebody has reported to the Integrity Commission they must investigate how Sandals came to Tobago,” he said.
Insisting then too, that Sandals “suits our approach,” he also told PNM Tobago Council members:
“You know what, the Sandals group, they are building five more of those complexes in the Caribbean. We were in the order of number two but just the general sentiment that is going on here now, added to the hurricane damage and of course the whole excitement in Barbados,
we are now at number six. They now settled for another one in Barbados and they are repairing – doing significant work to get back on track after the hurricane.”