TWO foreign yacht owners are appealing to the Government to relax its border restrictions and allow the entry of international yachts, as the economy is losing out on thousands of foreign exchange.
Last Friday, the Yacht Services Association of Trinidad and Tobago (YSATT) urged government to reopen T&T to international yacht arrivals, as there have been no reported cases of Covid-19 infection or transmission among ‘yachties’ reported globally.
In a letter to the Express, Mark Haskins from the United States stated that for the past ten years he has been sailing to Trinidad and has relied on the excellent services provided to him by the skilled workers and world-class facilities in Chaguaramas.
“We spend an average of US$20,000 on boat work, supplies, dockage, eating, entertainment, and sightseeing.
Like us, a large community of cruising yachts spend months each year in Trinidad getting serviced, while their crews enjoy your beautiful country and the hospitality of your people. The economic loss of the infusion of foreign currency to Trinidad via the yachting industry has to be devastating.”
Haskins noted that in response to the pandemic, sailors could safely arrive with negative Covid tests, and quarantine upon arrival, as quarantining on board a boat in an unpopulated area such as Chacachacare or Scotland Bay, would be easy and safe.
“For many years, Trinidad has been a destination of choice for yachts arriving from foreign ports. Not being able to go to Trinidad is a loss to us as well as an economic loss to the yachting industry. We hope the citizens of Trinidad will support YSATT and urge the government to allow the entry of foreign yachts, with appropriate safely considerations,” Haskins said.
And, Dr. Karl Heinz Lung from Germany in his letter said that his yacht has been at the Peake’s boatyard in Chaguaramas, for nearly a year and he urgently wanted to come to Trinidad to get access to his catamaran.
“I support YSATT’s effort in trying to get the government to reopen the borders and I hope those in authority wake up soon,” Lung added.
The association in its statement last week Friday said a proposal for a safe reopening was submitted to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) last year and representatives also met with National Security Minister Stuart Young and Finance Minister Colm Imbert in June 2020.
Both ministers were sensitive to the plight of the industry and its many suffering labourers and gave assurances to revisit the situation, the association said, adding that to date it has been unable to secure any more meeting with the ministers.