Public Relations Officer of the Tobago Council of the People’s National Movement (PNM), Kwesi Des Vignes has promised public consultations would take place on the proposed Sandals resort in Tobago but could give no information on when this would happen.
“We would do all in our power to ensure that there are consultations and the law is followed at all times,” Des Vignes said at a press conference called by the Tobago Council Scarborough on Wednesday.
“What we don’t want to do at this point in time is pre-empt any discussions. We want the process to go, the process does include some consultations and there have been assurances by the Prime Minister himself that the consultations would happen. They have to happen at all levels and we are going to ensure that everyone is part and parcel of that process.”
He noted that at previous consultations on other matters such as the Tobago Autonomy Bill, “it ends up being this handful of agitators who come out.
“I don’t know how we would engage, I don’t know if people want the consultations to be through the media, but we have to come up with a mechanism to get people more involved,” he said.
Des Vignes, who is also Secretary for Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) also complained that it was false to say that the Assembly was not protecting Tobago’s environment.
Referring to concerns raised at a public forum on the Memorandum of Understanding between Government and Sandals last week Thursday at the Scarborough library led by chartered surveyor and activist Afra Raymond, that Tobago’s environment was at risk with the Sandals project, he said such matters would be addressed at the consultations.
“So to say that we take things lightly so that we’re not in defence of Tobago and protecting Tobago’s environmental heritage is nothing but false. The record is there and what we are saying is that there is a process, a lawful process and we are going to ensure that the Sandals project goes through that process,” he said.
Des Vignes also responded to a question about allegations of sexual assault of guests at Sandals, saying that ‘there are sex scandals in many different resorts throughout Jamaica.”
“As a matter of fact, I saw a report that says that they are underreported in many of these resorts be it Secrets and all of those. Around the world, there are those things because the brand doesn’t control any one person or any human behaviour, so if any one person decides… the reality is that you would hire people, you would train them, and they still do different things.
“You see that in the police services, the fire service, the teaching service… that we always would have these types of things once different personalities are involved. We are a society that encourages individualism, so those things would happen, so I don’t want to single out Sandals for having a sex scandal, that would be foolhardy of us.”
Sandals has denied allegations that it is covering up allegations of sexual assault on two American female guests, insisting in a statement that it stands ready to “vigorously defend itself in court.”
The statement by Sandals follows a report aired on the US-based ABC network on Monday on claims made by professional make-up artist Melissa Blayton, and couple Jeff and Ashley Pascarella.