THE EDITOR: The latest news regarding the imminent relocation of the last batch of residents blocking the expansion work at the ANR Robinson Airport in Tobago gives us hope that this much needed project can now proceed expeditiously.
This is particularly pleasing for those who recognise the amazing potential of Tobago to attract a wide and sustainable visitor market from many major metropolitan centres worldwide.
Indeed, we all need to wake up to the fact that Tobago has a unique array of natural and man-made attractions which include breathtakingly beautiful bays and beaches, wonderful forested areas dotted with a number of enchanting waterfalls, a naturally friendly people, along with interesting historical sites.
It should also be noted that Tobago is at a very low risk for tropical depressions and hurricanes. Now, besides needing a spacious, well-designed, modern airport, Tobago has to make major improvements in the following areas to attract large numbers of visitors on a sustainable basis:
1. Crime suppression has to be vastly improved in a relatively short time as large numbers of visitors will not frequent a crime-filled destination.
2. The environment must be as pristine as it is in Singapore. Again, tourists will not frequent a country with piles of garbage of all kinds lying around everywhere – and that goes for derelict vehicles also.
3. Constantly promote Tobago’s charms at the largest tourism fairs, while maintaining the best online marketing programs possible to attract more airlift and visitor numbers.
4. The Government should provide appropriate and fairly constructed incentives for new hotel construction, while reducing airport taxes to rates that are compatible with other major regional destinations such as the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Currently, most Caricom countries’ airport taxes are approximately twice as high as the DR’s and Mexico’s, which cause airfares to the region to become very uncompetitive.
5. Reopen the shuttered hotel school to ensure that our tourism product can be properly managed by trained professionals.
Of course, there are many other necessary components of a successful tourism product, but we have got to get the fundamentals correct to ensure that Tobago can take its rightful place as a highly prized visitor destination.