Tobago hotel association: No money coming in

Chris James, president of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association. -
Chris James, president of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association. -

The Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA) has said the island's hotel sector is virtually dead.

"We've got no income coming in, and we didn't have a lot of money before this (covid19 pandemic)," THTA president Chris James told Newsday on Wednesday.

"There is no spare cash, and it is a real concern at the moment, because we do not know how long this is going to go on."

He reiterated the hotel sector on the island, even before the onset of covid19, had been averaging 30 per cent occupancy, while the region enjoyed levels of over 60 per cent.

James's comments followed an earlier statement in which the association noted its members were already feeling the effects of "zero business activity" before the Government's announcements of restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus.

"It is well known that the industry in Tobago has for many years suffered from low occupancy compared with the rest of the Caribbean and the reasons for that have been well documented over the years," he said.

James said the recent increase in occupancy was mainly achieved by a reduction in average rate, leaving members with little or no reserve cash in the bank.

"Therefore, the majority enter this covid19 period worried if survival is possible."

He said the THTA and its sister organisation, the Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Association, wrote to the Government asking for a deferral of both tax and utilities payments until business returns to some level of normality.

James said they are yet to receive a response.

"But now, as the reality of the situation becomes clear and staff have been laid off, even maintaining a skeleton staff is proving difficult."

James said the association is also asking the THA to provide private security to patrol the island during the lockdown, in keeping with what had been announced for Trinidad in a Ministry of National Security release on Tuesday. The ministry said guards from four private security companies were to join police patrolling the streets in some parts of the island. The plan was dropped the following day.

James said the association fully understands the importance of the lockdown and supports the Government in its efforts to fight the pandemic.

"We also understand the importance of tourism to Tobago being the main private-sector foreign-exchange earner and job creator, and although in recent years we have not been as successful as we were ten years ago, Destination Tobago has great potential but urgent support is needed if we are to survive and achieve that potential."


"Tobago hotel association: No money coming in"

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