Ken Patino, owner of the Enchanted Waters Hotel and Patino Restaurant on Shirvan Road, Buccoo, is optimistic that 2018 will bring good prospects for his business, even as he noted that the last few months have not been good with continuing problems with airlift and the sea-bridge.
In August last year, Patino, 85, went through a bleak period as a drastic decline in tourist arrivals to Tobago negatively impacted on the earning capacity of his business such that he lapsed in making payments on his mortgage to the point where his bank was threatening to foreclose on his property and put it up for sale.
Patino, in an interview, said that he has discussed with his bankers the option of paying off the mortgage on his Shirvan Road property by selling other properties he owns, and that that solution is being pursued at this time, with the bank having ‘cut him some slack.’
“The bank isn’t down my throat… I am happy that the Bankers Association relented, and it appears as though they have seen our predicament…I am happy for that actually. They just have to bear with us because we have an
alternative, a way out of this predicament; once we pay off this mortgage we are home free. I have breathed a sigh of relief because it is very, very traumatic and stressful for the entire family,” he said.
“We have had to go into economic cutbacks; instead of five nights per week, we are open four nights per week. We’ve cut back on staff and now what we’ve done, my son, Roger, is the chef and he’s probably doing about six duties right now to try and save on salaries and ensure that the ends are met,” he added.
“Some nights we are able to put more bums on chairs and you figure well it will just blossom out; no, it’s just paranoia because the next day it’s down to zero and then the next days it may or may not go up again, it’s more like a see-saw. There is a lot of fall out in tourism up the islands following the weather patterns; the storms and so on but to date, we have not been able to benefit from that. I guess we just have to wait and hope things turn around for us here in Tobago,” he said.
But sill, he is looking for the silver lining in the tourism.
“I am optimistic, we are working, and I am definitely optimistic that 2018 will get a little better. There is a problem on the island and we need to find a solution; the solution at this time is working together, we have to work together,” he said.
He appealed to the Tobago Tourism Agency (TTA) to get to work.
“We have to do what we have to do… we market with Trip Advisor and booking.com and Expedia, we do our own marketing, in travel magazines, but
the TTA has a role to play as well to ensure that the entire system goes together.
“we need that kind of unity, that partnership of working together to get tourism moving once again. Things have got to change, and we need to work together,” Patino said.