Tobago hoteliers operating properties of 100 rooms or more can access a maximum of $600,000 from the Government’s $50 million fund facility.
In making the announcement on Wednesday at the post executive council news conference, Scarborough Library, Dennis said hoteliers and other proprietors in the island’s accommodation sector can apply for the “necessary support” by next week.
“In terms of the details, the grants will be capped at a maximum of $600,000 and the largest hotels – 100 rooms and above – will be able to access that as a maximum,” he told reporters.
Dennis said hotels with rooms of between 50 and 99 can access a maximum of $500,000 while smaller properties of between eight and 50 rooms can qualify for a maximum of $300,000.
Smaller properties of under seven rooms can access up to $100,000.
The decision on the new criteria for the disbursement of the $50 million grant was taken on Wednesday following a meeting between Dennis and members of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA).
Last week the members rejected a plan to give small guesthouse operators the bulk of the fund – $24 million – while small properties and hotels were expected to get $22 million and $4 million, respectively.
On that occasion, they also questioned the criteria for the disbursement, which was to be handled by the Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd.
Dennis said on Wednesday strict criteria was in place to ensure the Government gets value for money in the distribution of the funding.
He said properties must be registered as businesses and, where applicable, must also be tax and VAT compliant.
Dennis said the property owners are also required to provide information in terms of scope of work.
“The arrangement will be administered by the Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd and a monitoring and valuations committee will have responsibility for sifting through every application to ensure compliance.”
FUNDING WILL STIMULATE JOBS
Dennis said the purpose of the funding is to allow hotels and properties the opportunity to improve their room stock.
“We expect that that grant will allow for some increased employment and economic activity because, if all properties were to access the grants, they will have to engage labourers, carpenters, plumbers and other expertise to ensure that they do the necessary work.
“Therefore, the bulk of that money is expected to be injected into the economy of Tobago allowing us to achieve those two very important objectives at this time.”
Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced in March the $50 million fund for hoteliers, guesthouse operators and bed-and-breakfast owners so they could refurbish their properties during the covid19 pandemic.
In an immediate response, THTA president praised Dennis for his "conciliatory approach" in addressing their concerns.
He said, "Under the revised property categories and maximum grant limits, we are confident that the businesses which require the most assistance will get their fair share of much-needed relief.