President of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA), Chris James said he was disappointed that Sandals Resorts International (SRI) has decided to pull out of discussions for the proposed Tobago project.
James told Newsday Tobago that everyone needed to understand the value and importance of tourism to Tobago.
Attorney Martin George, speaking on behalf of the newly formed Tobago Business Chamber, said he viewed Sandals decision to withdraw from the Tobago project “with great sadness and regret.”
In a press release on Tuesday in response to the announcement by Sandals Chief Executive Officer Gebhard Rainer about Sandals Resorts International’s (SRI) withdrawal from the project, George said:
“We are always focused on facilitating and encouraging business and investment and development and we remain convinced that such … can be done while still preserving and maintaining and nurturing the natural environment and the eco-systems of the island in keeping with the maintenance of its natural beauty and pristine status as a paradise which can manage both the competing forces of development and infrastructural improvement along with preservation of the heritage and environment for future generations.”
George said he hoped all sides would be able to return to the table to resume negotiations and find workable solutions to meet the aims and objectives of the two competing ideals.
“One way or another, Tobago recognises the absolute and urgent need for brand name hotels to help boost and promote its tourism thrust. The international significance of a major brand brings with it a certain pull in terms of increased destination branding and destination awareness, greater airlift, greater interest by other airlines and greater improvements in standards and quality of service delivery and greater economic benefits all round.
“When the tide rises, it lifts all boats with it, both the big and the small ones,” he said.
George said he was convinced that with the billions of dollars in investment, in construction, job creation, training, and service delivery attendant upon such projects, it is possible for the population of Tobago as a whole to benefit and develop and derive spin-offs.
“The possible loss of the associated projects such as the airport expansion, the marina, golf course and other infrastructural developmental works will also spell tremendous and significant economic and foreign investment losses to Tobago and Tobagonians,” he contended.
“It therefore remains my unending hope and desire that there can still be some way of salvaging this deal and investment and infrastructural development which Tobago desperately needs,” he added.