GOVERNMENTS must possess the political will while the business sector and citizenry have to play their part to ensure their respective nations are not placed under adverse travel advisories.
Sandals Resorts International (SRI) deputy chairman and chief executive officer Adam Stewart made this statement when asked about the US Embassy’s travel advisory on TT which warned all US government officials of travelling in downtown Port of Spain after dusk.
SRI is planning to construct multi-million dollar Sandals and Beaches resorts in Tobago. Speaking to reporters via video conferencing at the Sandals Royal Barbados conference room yesterday, Stewart said while travel advisories does affect business activity noted that the resort chain had experience dealing with such scenarios and cited Jamaica where he lives and where the chain is head quartered.
“Jamaica issued a state of emergency trying to get crime under control, some of the criminal elements. Is it impacting our business and I mean our business as a country for tourism- it is because a state of emergency is a radical measure to take but the entire private sector has come together with the bigger picture in mind and we have all been in the marketplace marketing destination Jamaica,” he said.
“So the sensationalist part of things will affect the market place always, the answer is of course. Our jobs as nationals is to play the biggest role that we can in making sure that we protect all of the elements to make sure that we never end up there.”
“But it would not be the first time that one of our destinations has been put under an advisory and if there is a message in there, the government must do everything possible to ensure we do not get there.”
“There must be the political will to take the tough decisions that needs to be taken. But when we get there, our response to the government of Jamaica was we are in it for the long haul and for the big picture you have our support.”
SRI has tentatively identified the first quarter of 2019 as the start of construction for its proposed hotels at Tobago and has formally requested an Environmental Impact Assessment to be conducted on the site.
Approximately 3,000 people are expected to be employed at its Sandals and Beaches resorts while an estimated US$85 million is expected to be pumped into the Tobago economy annually.
Stewart told reporters that a formal request was made to government regarding an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as a 620-odd acre site in Tobago is government owned. He noted that environmental concerns are one of their top priorities and observed that Sandals had won the “Leading resort chain for environmental practices” saying an environmental management team was stationed at each resort to monitor such things as water and electricity use. He predicted visitor arrivals in Tobago to increase from 10,000 to 100,000 per year.