The government has approved a special grant facility for Tobago hoteliers to upgrade their establishments in the midst of the covid19 pandemic
At a news conference on Monday, Minister of Finance Colm Imbert made the announcement, saying the grant will be made available to allow Tobago hoteliers to upgrade their hotel rooms.
“That grant facility would be funded by the government in the first instance in the sum of $50 million.”
The island’s tourism sector is already being severely affected by the virus with some hoteliers reporting their occupancy levels are currently at ten per cent and declining.
Minister of Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said over 3,000 rooms are to be upgraded across the island.
“That was in mind to take advantage for the period of time when hotels would not be occupied.
“So the purpose of that is really to have enhanced room upgrades, and we are looking to have the enhancement of some 3,800 rooms, and that is across the board, in hotels, guesthouses, bed-and-breakfast facilities as well,” she said.
The announcement followed last Friday’s meeting between entrepreneurs,stakeholders and a ministerial team to discuss strategies to help businesses withstand the impact of the covid19 pandemic.
The team included Gopee-Scoon, Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell and Minister in the Ministry of Finance Allyson West.
Also present was vice-president of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association Carol-Ann Birchwood-James, who told Newsday Tobago hoteliers and business owners were expected to present a proposal to the Government this week on how they intend to upgrade in preparation for future business.
Birchwood-James could not be reached for comment after the announcement. President of the association Chris James said that the board was expected to sit on Tuesday to discuss the information presented.
After a March 14 meeting of the The Tobago Division, TT Chamber of Industry & Commerce and the hotels association, a gloomy James predicted hoteliers would experience a tremendous loss in revenue because of covid19.
Apart from the current ban on international flights, the cancellation of the 2020 Tobago Jazz Experience and other popular Easter activities, James said they have also lost weddings and other social events.