Tobago Tourism Agency CEO Louis Lewis has described as "unfortunate," the decision to cancel this year's Tobago's Jazz Experience owing to the threat posed by the novel coronavirus (covid19).
"With the cancellation of the jazz, it is an unfortunate decision that has to be taken, but I think it is the right one because you have to be mindful of the preservation of life. So, it is not something you can take lightly at all," he told Newsday Tobago.
Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles announced at a news conference at the Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort, Lowlands, on Thursday that the Jazz Experience – the island's flagship event – has been cancelled because of covid19.
Charles said the seven cruise ships which were expected to dock at the Scarborough Port over the next few weeks will also be barred.
The organisers of the Buccoo goat and crab race, which is usually held on Easter Tuesday, also announced on Friday that the popular event has been cancelled.
Lewis completely understands the rationale as he said human life cannot be compromised at the expense of economic gain.
"In any consideration of economic gains when compared with the safety of life, safety really has to be of paramount consideration.
"It is unfortunate what has happened. It is a global phenomenon so I think we have to manage those things very carefully."
The Tobago Festivals Commission, meanwhile, said while it is deeply saddened by the cancellation of the jazz festival,"we must take notice of the severity of the global situation where the covid19 is concerned."
The commission said with two confirmed cases in Trinidad "we not only understand the decision but also agree that it is in the best interest of all to cancel the event and focus on preserving the well-being of our citizens."
It added: "The Tobago Jazz Experience is one of our highlight events and one that is highly anticipated every year by locals and visitors alike."
The commission, headed by acting chairman Penelope Williams, said it remains committed to its usual standard of quality and excellence and as such, will forge ahead with the planning and execution of next year’s event, the details of which will be disclosed later this year.
The Tobago business community, while in support of the measures taken to curb the spread of covid19, is calling for a meeting with the Prime Minister and a high-level team as business owners believe they will not survive the economic blow of the novel coronavirus.
In a meeting on Friday, the business stakeholders painted a gloomy picture of 2020 and called on Central Government to give Tobago immediate attention.