Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis has welcomed the Government’s decision to reopen the Buccoo Marine Park and increase from two to six the number of daily flights between the two islands.
The Prime Minister made the announcement on Saturday during a news conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.
Dr Rowley said Tobago’s tourism-based economy was especially challenged owing the restrictions that have been imposed to prevent the spread of the virus.
As such, he said, economic activity needed to return to the island.
Speaking at a news conference at the Blue Waters Inn, Speyside, where the THA executive council met on the weekend to discuss the October 5 budget, Dennis said Rowley’s gesture to reopen the marine park and increase flights between the islands was timely given the economic challenges confronting hoteliers and average Tobagonians.
“The prime minister announced the amount of flights between the islands will increase from two flights per day to six flights per day. Of course, we welcome that,” he told reporters.
“We welcome the opportunity to have some level of activity on the island with respect to tourism. He announced that the Buccoo Marine Park will, once again be open where our tour operators can begin to ply their trade again.
“Of course, this would be subject to specific protocols to ensure that we manage the spread of the covid19 virus.”
Dennis could not elaborate further on the initiatives but announced that by the middle of November, legislation governing the operations of the marine park, will come before the assembly.
He revealed he already has a copy of the draft bill.
“As I said before, we attempted to bring some change to that area in terms of how it (marine park) was managed. We attempted to implement a policy and we began doing so successfully.
“But, I said, as well, that in order for us to manage that place more effectively, that there was a need for legislation.
“So, by the end of this month to the middle of next month, we will see coming to the assembly for the first time in a long while, a Tobago bill brought before the Tobago House of Assembly.”
Dennis also said he will continue to hold discussions with Finance Minister Colm Imbert with a view to assisting hoteliers rebound from the effects of the pandemic.
He said an announcement of new initiatives to revitalise the sector should come by the end of the month.
“I would hope that by the end of this month, we will be able to identify specific initiatives because in discussions with them, I am told that many of them are unable to access the funding available through the loan guarantee programme, through First Citizens bank, where the Government has made available some $300 million to businesses impacted by this pandemic.”
He added: “We will continue to give priority on the tourism sector. I have always said that tourism is not dead. It is simply in a coma and I saying despite the challenges, we will continue to do some soft marketing of the destination to ensure that destination Tobago continues to be visible. “
Dennis assured stakeholders will not be left out of the discussions “so that when the time comes and the borders are once again open, destination Tobago will in fact be in a state of readiness.” He said much focus will also be placed on the island’s agricultural sector in this fiscal year.
Special funding has been identified to treat with the availability of lands for livestock and crop production, he said, through the land management unit of the Office of the Chief Secretary. By the end of the year, lands for new farmers should be available in Goldsborough and other communities
“And, of course, the target we have set for that new area is 50 to 100 new farmers must be able to operate here in Tobago by the end of the year.”