An official in the Division of Finance and the Economy, Tobago House of Assembly has stressed the need for the island to diversify its economy.
"I cannot emphasise enough, we must diversify the economy of Tobago if we are going to be sustainable," Tricia Beckles, manager of strategic business development, said on Friday.
She was speaking at the launch of the Division's Finance Month 2019 at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex, Scarborough.
The theme was Advancing Our Economic Growth Through Innovation, Industry and Investment.
Beckles said Tobago's tourism-based economy cannot flourish on its current trajectory.
"Every economist worldwide will tell you that our current position is not something that is advisable and from where I sit in the strategic support and business development unit, I see the talent that we have, I see the creativity that we have and I know the world can benefit from what we have to offer."
Beckles said the onus is on Tobagonians to develop a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem.
She also told entrepreneurs to take advantage of some of the opportunities that will be discussed during the Tobago Business & Economic Outlook Conference on November 12. Topics at the conference include: advancing development in small island states, investing in institutional strengthening and improving the business climate towards diversifying the economy. Beckles said items on the agenda are expected to be rolled out in the medium to long term.
"Because we need to do it properly. We cannot afford to fail. This is Tobago, and we are going for greater than what we have experienced in the past.
"We pushed and we are very close to being able to incorporate internal self-government into our day-to-day lives and as such, we need to be prepared.
"We need to have the frameworks in place. This information that will be shared at the conference will be key in how we go forward with such a mandate."
Saying Tobago is at a critical, yet exciting stage in its development, Beckles declared: "We are going to do big things in Tobago, especially being able to embrace the credit markets and raise funds on our own to advance our development. As such, each of us has a part to play, if only to be aware and to speak to these issues by those who may not know."
A key feature of Finance Month is the launch of a new youth initiative called BOSS (Building Opportunity for Sustainable Success) on November 21.
Youth Energised for Success director June Melville said the initiative will, in the first instance, target 25 unemployed young people between 18 and 30, including university graduates with viable business ideas.
"It will be an ongoing long-term business counselling and mentorship relationship between experienced advisers, who will be the mentors, and a team of young, aspiring entrepreneurs," she said.
Melville said according to the UNWorld Youth Report for Civic Engagement 2013 -2015, unemployment is the major factor affecting the lives of young people around the world.
"As a consequence for many young people, today, economic engagement has become more challenging owing to the lack of decent employment opportunities.
"In addition, inadequacies in skills and education and the lack of support for entrepreneurship have profound impact on youth economic engagement."