Sports Minister Anil Roberts expressed his jubilation over the 2012 budget delivered by Minister of Finance and the Economy, Senator Larry Howai, which he said for the first time paid more than passing mention to the ministry. He said yesterday in a post-budget interview with the T&T Guardian: “If you know anything about politics and sports in T&T, you would know that sports has never received but passing mention. To become one of the pillars of growth and diversification in the economy, and to be in a budget speech and have an entire page and a half dedicated to sport, shows that the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the Government understand the importance of sport, not only for national pride and healthy lifestyles and a healthy population, but in diversifying and bringing revenue into this economy.”
Sports tourism, Roberts said, is going to be a huge thrust within the ministry and he assured the public the facilities allotted to the ministry would be used to create jobs and the sporting industry. Howai announced several initiatives aimed at driving sport tourism, such as the development of international-standard sporting facilities, and bringing sports to the various communities. Howai said sport “is big business and we intend to leverage our recent successes to make better use of existing facilities to host a number of international events and generate ongoing revenue." Besides the refurbishment of the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Tobago, which is going to receive updated lighting, drainage, electrical installation and athletic track upgrades, Howai announced the construction of a national aquatic centre, national tennis centre and national velodrome(built to international standards.
Howai hopes this would attract international athletes to provide international exposure to the country's athletes and to develop sport tourism. Howai also announced the construction of three multipurpose sporting facilities and the upgrading of 64 recreation grounds and 21 play parks. He also announced the upgrading of indoor facilities to accommodate people living with disabilities. He said the Ministry of Sport and the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development are working on a marketing plan to host international events "aimed at encouraging international sportsmen and women to come to T&T particularly during the winter months to utilise the facilities.” Sporting Tourism, Roberts said, could possibly generate $140 million to the national economy and the ministry expects to increase international visitors by 10,000 each year for sport tourism.