Tobago stakeholders express mixed views about opening of borders
Tobago stakeholders have expressed mixed views about the reopening of the country’s borders on Saturday.
While some members of the business community are adopting a wait-and-see approach, others said it makes no sense for the borders to be reopened if the beaches and bars are still closed.
The Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA) said it is cautiously optimistic about the TT travel pass system, which will manage entry into the country.
On Wednesday, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young described the travel pass as a robust platform.
He said those who meet the requirements to enter the country must upload all their vital information at https://ttravelpass.gov.tt/travel-requirement
But speaking to Newsday, THTA vice-president Carol-Ann Birchwood-James said the organisation is adopting a wait-and-see approach to the travel pass.
“We will have to see how the travel pass is going to work because it is not looking too bad on paper. You have to upload everything. So we need to see how it runs for a week or two,” she said.
Nevertheless, Birchwood-James welcomed an avenue for nationals and visitors to come to TT.
“So, it is a move in the right direction. We applaud the government for that. We will see how this travel pass works.”
She said she received several complaints from people who tried unsuccessfully to upload their information.
“All of these things are teething problems so we hope that by the 17th it should be working so we could start to get some visitors again in our hotels.”
Birchwood-James also hoped there would be an increase in the number of domestic flights between the two islands.
“We are glad it’s happening and we await to see how it is going to go. I hope things go well to benefit all of us.”
The border reopening policy stipulates that only vaccinated non-nationals, along with vaccinated and unvaccinated nationals are allowed to enter the country.
All unvaccinated nationals must enter through Piarco International Airport and be quarantined for 14 days at a state supervised quarantine facility.
Vaccinated individuals can enter either through Trinidad or Tobago.
While the Tobago Business Chamber had no issue with the travel pass, the organisation felt it made no sense opening the borders when the beaches and recreational spots remain closed.
“Our opinion is, ‘What’s the point of borders open and so many businesses, bars, beaches and recreational activities closed?’” the chamber’s president Martin George said via Whatsapp.
Owner of Frankie Tours, Michael Frank, said while reef boat operators welcomed the reopening of the borders, members of the fraternity still will not be able to resume trips to the Buccoo Reef and other destinations.
“It really does not benefit us in any way at all because I thought they would have opened up beaches while they opened the borders,” he said.
Frank said members are also adopting a wait-and-see approach.
“There is no feeling about it. It’s not good, it’s not bad. With this opening, it means the covid19 Delta variant is going to come into the country at some time. You can’t get away from that.
“But if the borders remain closed the country will be at a standstill. So, it is a gamble.”
Frank said the government has to try to keep the rate of new covid19 infections down.
BY: COREY CONNELLY