The Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA) is predicting challenges for its already struggling accommodation sector in the wake of the Prime Minister's announcement that air and sea transport between Trinidad and Tobago will be limited to essential travel.
This is part of the stricter strategy to stop the spread of covid19. The change was one of a slew of measures Dr Rowley announced at a news conference on Saturday to address the rising number of covid19 cases. As of Monday at 6 am, the Prime Minister, announced beaches, rivers, water parks and casinos will be closed again, among other measures.
THTA vice-president Carol-Ann Birchwood-James said this will thwart the island's domestic tourism campaign.
"It will make the balance of the August very challenging for the hotels and accommodating sectors, because beaches are closed from Monday and limited access to Tobago. So what do you have there?" she asked. "We have all of these bookings for August. So it is going to be a challenge."
Birchwood-James said she had already spoken to hoteliers, all of whom expressed the view that tourism on the island will get "messy." She said Trinidadians come to Tobago for the beaches and quietness.
"But if the beaches are closed, what is the attraction for them being here?"
Additionally, Birchwood-James said some of the hoteliers had spent money to reopen their hotels.
"So how do we cover that? How do we pay our workers? "That is what is going through the minds of everybody at this point in time."
Birchwood-James claimed 80 per cent of the workers, who were temporarily laid off during the national lockdown on non-essential activity in March, still have not received the $1,500 salary relief grant.
"So what we will do is get numbers with names to send to the authorities."
Birchwood-James said hoteliers are adopting a wait-and-see approach to the measures, "but they are already seeing it's going to be challenging."
President of the Tobago Chamber of Commerce Diane Hadad believes the measures will continue to "hurt and kill" the island's economy. "That is the bottom line," she told Newsday.
Hadad also said she is yet to get an explanation from experts, medical or otherwise, as to what happens to the virus when people are in lockdown.
"Because I do not understand, and there has been no logic to why we keep closing down stuff, because the results are coming out to be the same, meaning that when we close down, as soon as we start to open covid19 is there.
"So there is nothing that is saying that in closure, covid is dying. Then...the real solution doesn't seem to be just closing down the place. That, for me, does not seem to be the answer."
Hadad said absent an explanation, she is guided by the "leaders that are in place."
"They have whatever medical advice they are working with, but from a logical sense, the one unanswered question for me is: 'Where does covid go when we are in lockdown?'"As of Saturday, Tobago had recorded 17 positive cases, with 13 active cases and one death.