Govt to give support to Sunwing’s investment in Turtle Beach

“Sandals isn’t the only thing. There are other prospects. And if you aim for the sky and you fall into the clouds, you’re still way above the ground.”

So said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley as he yesterday announced his determination to “redouble” his efforts to develop Trinidad and Tobago, pledging not to be deterred by his “disappointment” over the Sandals’ withdrawal from Tobago.

But all may not be lost for the is­land’s tourism sec­tor, as Cana­di­an-based Sun­wing Trav­el Group wants the Gov­ern­ment to in­vest in Tur­tle Beach Ho­tel which they re­cent­ly ac­quired.

The an­nounce­ment was made by Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley yes­ter­day dur­ing his first Con­ver­sa­tion with the Me­dia at Diplo­mat­ic Cen­tre, St Ann’s.

Last week, the PM met with Sun­wing’s CEO Stephen Hunter and oth­er ex­ec­u­tives of the air­line com­pa­ny where they dis­cussed Sun­wing’s hav­ing an in­ter­est in an in­creased pres­ence in To­ba­go, in­clud­ing an in­ter­est in State-owned Mag­dale­na Grand Beach and Golf Re­sort.

Sun­wing pro­vides di­rect flights from Toron­to to To­ba­go.

The air­line, which is the largest in­te­grat­ed trav­el com­pa­ny in North Amer­i­ca, re­cent­ly ac­quired a chain of Rex Re­sorts’ Caribbean ho­tels and is now the own­er of Tur­tle Beach Ho­tel in To­ba­go.

The PM was asked what plans his Gov­ern­ment has to im­prove To­ba­go’s tourism thrust with San­dals pulling out of the project, to which he said Sun­wing was one in­vestor they were look­ing at.

Hav­ing ac­quired Tur­tle Beach Ho­tel, Row­ley said Sun­wing wants to up­grade the ho­tel to their stan­dard.

“They al­so think it does not have enough rooms. So they want to in­crease the num­ber of rooms…they want to up­grade it to a five-star ho­tel. They asked for Gov­ern­ment sup­port for that and we said yes.”

He said Sun­wing’s prospect was to build be­tween 200 to 300 rooms.

He also said, how­ev­er, Sun­wing was faced with one prob­lem as “the cur­rent road be­tween Black­rock and Ply­mouth pass­es right in front of the ho­tel’s lob­by.”

Some peo­ple in To­ba­go, Row­ley said, took the po­si­tion that the road be­longs to them and “no­body must stop them from pass­ing there.”

He said this de­vel­op­ment, was not the la­goon, No Man’s Land or the man­grove.

“It is the use of a road that was built to con­nect Black­rock to Ply­mouth and to pre­vent traf­fic from pass­ing through a ho­tel if they use the land they have on the oth­er side,” he said.

The PM said this was a mat­ter for the To­ba­go House of As­sem­bly to han­dle.

“We are go­ing to have some in­ter­est­ing days ahead. The Gov­ern­ment al­so has oth­er sites in To­ba­go,” he not­ed.

The PM said there were some pri­vate sec­tor sites they can utilise. “We are go­ing to en­cour­age peo­ple to in­vest in­to To­ba­go,” he said.

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