Tobago Chamber to Govt: ‘Please reopen beaches, bars’

Tobago business chamber chairman Martin George wants the Government to ease its covid19 restrictions for beaches, bars and food establishments in Monday’s budget presentation as a means of generating some much needed economic activity on the island.

In an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus, beaches remain closed to the public while bars and restaurants are offering pick-up services only.

The Prime Minister has said the Government will review these restrictions on October 11 if the rate of new covid19 infections decreases significantly.

But in a Whatsapp voice note on Friday, George said with the borders still closed to the international market and the travel measures currently in place to limit movement on the sea and air bridge, Tobago’s economy is virtually at a standstill.

“We say the Government can consider a limited reopening of beaches, bars and restaurants just for Tobago because we are saying that the Tobago economy is particularly dependent on the Trinidadian visitor coming to Tobago and if there are no beaches, restaurants or bars, it really makes it not as attractive as a destination for them,” he said.

George is also hoping the Government reinstitutes normal flights between the two islands.

“We are also asking that the Government resume normal flight activity between the two islands so that Trinidadians can come to Tobago for vacation freely and easily without any hassle of just one flight per day. The one flight per day is unsustainable.”He also wants the Government to stand by its commitment to introduce two new fast ferries on the sea bridge.

In its wish list, George also reiterated the chamber’s call for the immediate and unconditional repeal of the Foreign Investment Act.

“We are saying that legislation, once it is repealed, would allow for the direct foreign investment to come in to Tobago and that would create and immediate boost and fillip to our earnings.”

He also wants the Government to commit to a minimum of 25 per cent local labour and contractor input in terms of mega projects taking place in Tobago.

George also repeated the chamber’s call for Tobago to be made a VAT-free zone.

“This is going to benefit people who wish to come to live in Tobago, even if you come for vacation or one day, you will still get the benefit because the whole island will be VAT free.”

George argued the measure will also address the inequities and imbalances caused by the high cost of transport of goods to Tobago.

“So, if the Government makes Tobago a VAT free zone, that is definitely going to encourage investment. It is going to encourage persons to want to retire in Tobago. They will have a greater investment and involvement in the development activity in Tobago.”

 

BY:  COREY CONNELLY

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