Tobago business chambers: Chin’s review of MovieTowne in Lowlands ‘worrying’
Tobago businessmen have described as “worrying,” MovieTowne owner Derek Chin’s decision to explore his options with regard to the franchise’s Tobago cinema.
Movie Towne, Tobago, is located at the Gulf View Mall, Lowlands.
Chin told Newsday on Friday the cinema has not been profitable since it began operations on the island seven years ago.
He said the situation has been exacerbated by the general decline in Tobago’s tourism sector over the years as well as the public health restrictions to prevent the spread of covid19 at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.
The measures shut down bars, restaurants, cinemas, gyms and other sectors deemed as non-essential.
Chin said he was reviewing the cinema’s viability and called on Tobago entrepreneurs, who may have an interest in investing in the cinema industry, to contact him.
But he assured the cinema is not on the market.
“I am open to offers. It’s not like it’s for sale. But if somebody came along and said, ‘I don’t mind trying a thing because I live in Tobago,’ then maybe they might be able to make it work for themselves.”
Tobago Business Chamber president Martin George said on Saturday the organisation is very concerned about the development.
“It is always a sign of worry when you see business owners, especially of a major investment such as MovieTowne thinking that the market has not been as good as they anticipated or as good as their projections had planned,” he said in a Whatsapp voice note on Saturday.
Observing the pandemic has had a devastating effect on businesses across the board, George said the chamber hopes the cinema would rebound when the economy reopens.
“We know that it has been closed for a while but we were hoping that once the economy is restarted and reopened that MovieTowne and all other businesses would be back up and running.”
George said, though, the chamber understands that businessmen must make economic decisions in the manner they feel is best.
He said Chin’s decision to mull over the cinema’s viability suggests that businessmen should not become complacent.
“We urge all Tobagonians, especially business people and entrepreneurs to look at this as a lesson and understand that we always have to be proactive, adaptable. We have to be flexible, adjustable to ensure the continued viability and success of our business entities.”
Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association vice-president Carol-Ann Birchwood-James said Chin’s announcement that the cinema has not been profitable did not surprise her.
“I am not surprised at what Mr Chin says because you never found many people going to the cinema,” she told Newsday.
“You can see that when you go there. You never got overwhelming numbers unless it was something like Black Panther.
“Outside of that the people who would have come out and seen the movies would have been the visitors.”
Birchwood-James described the situation as “sad.”
She said: “You need entertainment for when our visitors get here. They may like to see a movie.
“But we have not been in the best place as far as tourism is concerned. So, it is just a very sad situation.”
Birchwood-James is hoping Chin would rethink his position “as we try to get more visitors to come to the island.
“In Tobago, you need local and foreign visitors to make a cinema do well. You cannot depend on a small population of 60,000 to make your cinema thrive.”
Chin told Newsday although the cinema industry continues to be in dire straits, he plans to hold on the MovieTowne’s outlets in Port of Spain, San Fernando and Guyana.
The latter has been closed since March 2020.
Chin said before the lockdown, the three cinemas were reasonably viable.
BY: COREY CONNELLY