Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles said Monday he was not aware that Sunwing Airline Inc was seeking to operate the state-owned Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort.
Charles also said he saw no conflict of interest in a board member of the Tobago Tourism Agency Limited (TTAL) board member being granted a passenger ground handling contract from Sunwing.
Speaking with Newsday Tobago on Monday, Charles said that while he was aware that proposals were submitted from various entities to manage the operations of Magdalena, he had no information on how many proposals were received nor who were the applicants.
“Eteck would have sent out an RFP (Request for Proposals) for a management contract for Magdalena, however I am not privy to who has responded.
“Sunwing is an international outfit that has interest in the tourism sector and as a result they are continuing to explore all possibilities,” he said.
Last Wednesday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley met with a high-level executive team from the Canadian-based Sunwing Travel Group at the Diplomatic Centre, St Anns. Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hunter, Vice President Daniel Diaz and Executive Vice President, Business Affairs Sabah Mirza represented Sunwing at the meeting.
A release from the Office of the Prime Minister said discussions focused on Sunwing’s interest in an increased presence in Tobago including an interest in the operations of the State-owned Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort. Sunwing Travel Group, which is the largest integrated travel company in North America, recently acquired a chain of Rex Resorts’ Caribbean hotels and is now the owner of Turtle Beach Hotel in Tobago.
Sunwing began an inaugural charter flight from the Lester B Pearson International Airport in Toronto to Tobago on December 20, 2018.
On the TTAL Board member being granted the passenger ground handling contract for the Sunwing flights Charles said:
“Sunwing had done an RFP and anyone interested was free to apply. Sunwing did their RFP and people responded, this RFP had nothing to do with the Tobago Tourism Agency. The Agency had absolutely nothing to do with that issue so the issue of conflict of interest does not arise,” he said.