Colm Imbert

Colm Imbert

The Turtle Beach hotel, renamed Starfish Resort, has been bought by Sunwing Airlines. This was confirmed by Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis, during a virtual media conference on Saturday.

“Sunwing took over the Turtle Beach hotel. They have already purchased it,” Dennis said.

Sunwing Airlines is a Canada-based budget airline that operated a weekly flight to Tobago before T&T closed its borders on March 23.

Meanwhile, talks with the Apple Leisure Group and the takeover of Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort have slowed. “Unfortunately due to the pandemic those developments have significantly slowed,” Dennis added.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert, when asked yesterday to comment on the takeover of Magdalena Grand, said negotiations will take some time to finalise, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the closure of our borders.

“It does not make practical business common sense to seek to conclude such an agreement under the strictures of Covid-19. Because of the unpredictability of the behaviour of the virus worldwide, which is now in its second wave, no one knows for sure when international flights will fully resume and/or when public health regulations and travel restrictions, here and abroad, will be lifted,” Imbert said.

He said in the circumstances, it is extremely difficult at this time to properly or accurately forecast the occupancy rate, or the income to be generated by the hotel under new management, which are key factors in any management agreement for the hotel. “Until a vaccine is developed, therefore, this situation is unlikely to change, so the negotiations will take some time to finalise,” Imbert concluded.

Restriction ease

good for tourism

Dennis yesterday welcomed the additional flights per day between Trinidad and Tobago announced by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, and the tours to the Buccoo Reef.

On Saturday, during a news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, the Prime Minister announced that Caribbean Airlines Ltd will operate six flights daily between Trinidad and Tobago (up from two).

While rivers and beaches are still off-limits for liming and other leisure activities, Rowley also said citizens may now book boat tours of the Buccoo Reef in Tobago, so long as they continue to wear masks and practise physical distancing.

Dennis said the additional measures announced by the Prime Minister, augurs well for Tobago’s tourism thrust. “And of course we welcome that. We welcome the opportunity to have some level of activity on the island, with respect to tourism, “ he said. Dennis spoke following a post budget retreat media conference, at Blue Waters Inn, Tobago. He announced that due to the 55.4 per cent shortfall in Tobago’s budgetary allocation, there will be some spending cuts, across the Assembly, going forward.

The purchasing of new THA vehicles is not priority at this time he said.

“So we have determined that there will be some spending cuts on the recurrent side. 8.5 per cent or more in some cases in order as to facilitate the kind of funding that is required for our development programme.”

He said, despite the shortfall, some priority areas include tourism, education and infrastructural development.

“We expect to start very soon the Manta Lodge renovations, the indoor sporting complex at Bacolet, and of course we intend to bring to completion the Roxborough Hospital and the Moriah Health Centre,” Dennis said.

He said Covid-19 relief grants are to continue until December, inclusive of rental relief, income and salary relief grants.