Finance Minister Colm Imbert has announced that steps will be taken to reopen the tourism and creative sectors – two of those hardest hit by the covid19 pandemic.
Delivering the 2023 budget in the House of Representatives on Monday, Imbert said, “Our tourism industry was shuttered early in 2020 in the face of the covid19 pandemic.”
He said while government’s fiscal and monetary programmes kept the industry afloat temporarily, it was time to reshape and revitalise the sectors. He said one of the things government will do for the industry is encourage the adoption of technology, especially among small and micro-enterprises.
“Encouraging innovation, entrepreneurship and diversification within this combined sector is undoubtedly enhancing productivity levels and making significant contributions to our growth…We are therefore providing assistance for those small and micro-enterprises in the sectors to digitise the provision of their services. Their integration in the global marketplace will thus be assured…
"We already envisage approximately 60 participants to benefit from this facility. "
Government will reimburse innovators and entrepreneurs in the sectors with 50 per cent of their investment, up to a maximum of $50,000, Imbert said.
Additionally, the minister said, government has invested $600 million in the hotel industry, with three new hotel brands that will add over 300 rooms to the stock: Comfort Inn and Suites at Orange Hill, Tobago, opened in August 2022, The Brix Hotel by Marriott and Radisson Blu in Port of Spain, which will open in the second quarter of 2023.
“We envisage high occupancy level and a positive image of Destination TT.”
Imbert said government is also marketing and promoting cruise tourism, adding that with the recent MOU between the Ministry of Tourism and Royal Caribbean recruitment will be ongoing, and cruise ships will be making increased calls to Trinidad and Tobago when the 2022/23 cruise season begins.
He said government has already begun upgrading tourism sites and attractions, including the La Vigie Paramin Lookout.
“And the Desperadoes Pan Theatre, the new home of Desperadoes Steel Orchestra, will provide, at a cost of $14 million, an enhanced performance space to facilitate the activities of the band.”
He said Caribbean Airlines too has joined the tourism support thrust, with its recently acquired fleet of nine new 737S aircraft with “low operating and maintenance costs,” allowing for more tourism traffic.