Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles says Tobagonians, especially businessmen, are fully on board with the Sandals Resort project.
Charles was responding to a question on public feedback for project in the wake of public criticism that it involved a secret deal and posed a problem to the island’s ecosystem.
“As far as I am aware, the business community is very comfortable with the project ... we just came back from World Travel Market where we went to launch, at an international level, our new Go To Market strategy,” Charles told reporters at yesterday’s post-Cabinet media briefing at Magdalena Grande Resort in Tobago.
He noted that many tour operators and airlines at the WTM were pleased the THA was upgrading the quality of its room stock by introducing Sandals to the island.
“Truth be told, we do not currently have any five-star hotel in Tobago and what will be coming with a Sandals brand is a five-star hotel.”
Questioned further about concerns raised by Tobago’s environmentalists that the project would negatively impact the environment, Charles referred to statements made earlier by Minister Stuart Young.
Young had said Sandals aimed to do whatever was necessary to preserve the environment.
“There is going to be absolutely no interference with the No Man’s Land split. In fact, I was here a few months ago and did a walkthrough of the (area ) ... and the mangrove with the Sandals executives and what they were discussing is the clean-up of the No Man’s Land split for the public,” Young said.
“Sandals has a great record of dealing with the environment in which they build ... they (Sandals) have done in the reconstruction of reefs... and mangroves.”
Since it was discovered that Sandals Resorts’ waste might affect the Buccoo Reef and Nylon Pool, environmentalists have criticised the Government’s use of that area. A public petition has been circulating on social media and persons have gone on record to publicly question the use of the area. One such person Environment Tobago founder Pat Turpin.
“It’s quite ironic that some of the people that are the loudest opposers to the area where Sandals should go ... some of these people themselves may have questions to answer in other parts of Tobago, particularly in the northwestern end of Tobago and possible polluting of the beaches up on that side,” Young said.
Turpin operates a business in Charlotteville, which is the northwestern end of Tobago.
On the issue of the status of the Sandals project, Stuart said it will move ahead to the second stage as the Sandals Resorts board decided last week to proceed.