Tobago businessman Demi John Cruikshank is upset about the pullout of Sandals from Tobago.
He told a small group at a town meeting at James Park, Scarborough, on Friday that it was a sad day when the announcement was made that Sandals was leaving.
Cruikshank, former head of the Tobago Division of the T&T Chamber, said the departure of the resort operator was a severe blow to the island’s business community. He said Sandals benefits the islands states where it operates by way of taxes, employment and increased visitor arrivals. He gave the example of the Bahamas had 30,000 international arrivals last Christmas Day, while Tobago only got 18,000 international arrivals for all of 2018.
He said farmers would have benefited and they were getting ready to supply the resort with locally grown produce.
“There was one guy in Pembroke who just mortgaged his house for $5 million and was going into an egg processing business and putting up a massive egg-plant operation in Pembroke. That squashed, 5000 jobs gone, so we understand what we lost,” he said.
Cruickshank also said Tobagonians lost out from earning high incomes at Sandals. He said a butler at the resort earns approximately US$5000 a month plus US$1000 to US$2000 a month in tips.
“If a butler salary is US$7500 a month, he working for more money than the Chief Secretary of the THA. So we sit down with foolishness in Tobago and sit down and let some people who call themselves leaders in Tobago encourage some people who say they are environmentalists in Tobago and did not even pick up the phone and call Sandals and say tell me your track record as to what’s happening with the environment and your environmental policies,” he said.
Cruickshank, who appealed to Tobagonians not be sidetracked by a handful of people, added: “We as right-thinking Tobagonians have to get up and say those people are minorities and they talking foolishness and they do not support or carry the majority of Tobagonians or Tobagonian voices.”
He said another hotel brand was interested in setting shop in Tobago but was waiting for Sandals. However, this might not happen again because of the negative investor climate.