PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley hit back at naysayers by saying the Magdalena Grand Hotel in Tobago had enjoyed an occupancy rate as high as 68 per cent for some portion of the recent Easter break and over 50 per cent days earlier, addressing yesterday’s post Cabinet briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.
He contrasted this to the mere 30 per cent occupancy level claimed by critics.
Rowley praised the efforts of the four to five planes of the air bridge that, he said, had taken a lot of people to Tobago, despite the ongoing sea bridge woes. He said while the air bridge capacity had been some 16,000 seats, only 13,000 seats had been used while 3,000 were not utilised. The PM said that at Easter he had personally seen Tobago’s markets and shops being well stocked, in contrast to fears of low supplies due to sea bridge woes. Otherwise he lamented the “very trying period” of the sea bridge. Rowley said poor maintenance in the past of the sea bridge ferries now meant long periods needed in dry dock. He lamented that while the TT Spirit was due to dry dock for six weeks, that time had extended to nine months. Further, the ship had suffered successive woes, respectively, problems with the engine, radar, cable and generator. Otherwise, replacement vessels are not readily available.
He then chided critics who say don’t come to Tobago, saying such criticism could create a problem in attracting tourists. Rowley used the occasion to deny recent allegations by Opposition Senator Wade Mark that newly-acquired ferry, Galleons Passage, was an old boat valued at just $8 million but for which $17 million had been paid. He was hopeful it would arrive in TT by month-end.
Rowley said the Government was not unmindful of the plight of long-suffering Tobagonians and intended to end that plight.