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Tobago Chamber: Poor airport logistics led to Virgin’s departure
There has been violent crimes committed against visitors to Tobago.
The Arthur NR Robinson international airport is too small and needs to be expanded.
Poor logistics at the airport were one of the reasons Virgin Atlantic pulled out of servicing the route.
Diane Hadad, newly-elected chair of the Tobago Division of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, said entering Tobago is a nightmare as Immigration and Customs are located within close proximity and can’t accommodate the volume of visitors all at once.
Also, none of the restaurants at the airport are open at night.
“You have the line to Immigration, the baggage collection and the Customs area (located in) something a little domestic (area) where you just collect your bag. There is one (conveyor) belt. Picture 300 people coming off of a plane, in that space, in a line to see two or three Immigration officers being processed, and then going for their bag and then having to deal with 100 per cent security check at Customs.”
Offering an explanation for Virgin Atlantic abandoning Tobago, Hadad said it was probably due to the feedback the airline was getting from passengers.
Regarding the sister isle’s economic development, Hadad said a labour crisis has hit the island as workers do not take their jobs seriously.
“We have at least a 25 per cent absenteeism rate every morning from the staff who do turn up for work. Out of the 75 per cent who do attend work, ten per cent do report on time, the rest are late.”
Showing up late for work and absenteeism are a cost to doing business.
It has prompted Hadad to compile a document of statistics she faces with labour in her own business.
“You, as the employer, can’t even discipline anybody, so if they come to work in the wrong dress code, or they are not looking presentable to go out to a customer - because they have actually come out to work, you have to accept them as they are because you are so happy for them to just come to work.”
Hadad is also not pleased with the policing as a whole, on the island. Referring to her own experience when she got a ticket from a member of the police service which contained a spelling and grammar error.
“The quality of human resource in terms of policing, in terms of being able to detect, analyse and come up to a solution, that brain power does not exist very well on the island.”
Reports of two cars being stolen, a murder and robbery at a gas station are too much crime for an island as small as Tobago. The crime detection rate is 13 per cent for 2013, Hadad said.