THA Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis has described the opening of the borders on July 17 as a step in the right direction towards the reopening of Tobago's economy.
In an interview with Newsday on Wednesday he said, "Economically, we have been impacted hard by having to close the borders as a means of fighting this disease.
“With the cautious reopening, once we continue to manage it carefully, we will start to generate some additional economic activity to get us back on track with our development processes.”
After closing on March 21, 2020, the borders will reopen to international flights, only for nationals and vaccinated non-national travellers. However, these flights will not be arriving at the ANR Robinson International Airport.
Last Friday, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young, while touring the Piarco International Airport, said, “Tobago has asked for more time to see how this works out, and we will work with Tobago. So right now, we don’t see any opening of international flights immediately to Tobago, but that will come. So right now, we are going to flow the traffic through Piarco.”
However, there has been disagreement over who made this request.
Secretary of Health Tracy Davidson-Celestine told Newsday it was the hotel sector, but Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA) president Chris James promptly denied that.
"We are waiting for discussions with anybody willing to have it, and we don’t want any delays for the reopening," James said.
Davidson-Celestine later told another media house there was "some cross communications with regards Tobago's readiness."
Dennis declined to address the issue on Wednesday saying: "the relevant secretary responded to this."
However, the Chief Secretary said the island must remain careful with the management of this disease.
“We must remain cognisant of the dangers, and we have to take a holistic view of this process. It is a phased approach and definitely not a permanent arrangement. So, let's work it through its development.”
He said the hotel sector must do its part.
“As partners in the tourism sector, we cannot let our guard down. We are in a pandemic and the messages are crystal clear. Adhere to the health protocols of social distancing, wearing your masks and sanitisation. And most importantly protect yourself and your loved ones and get vaccinated, if you have not already done so.”
He shared the sentiments that the accommodation sector is ready for the reopening.
“The accommodation sector recently hosted several thousands of visitors barely two months ago over the Easter season. You may have heard it last week, from the THTA president himself, that the accommodation sector is ready for business.”
Dennis said the island is ready to accept visitors.
“Tobago welcomes your return if you have been before and eagerly awaits you arrival if you haven't, for a safe and Beyond Ordinary experience.”