The Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Association (THRTA) are angry over the Prime Minister’s apparent bias in dealing with Tobago especially with regard to the incentives offered to the hotel industry there.
On March 19th the government announced a grant of TT$50 million to accommodation providers in Tobago to assist in the upgrade and refurbishment of their respective properties in preparation for the re-opening of their hotels post Covid-19.
The THRTA feels that there is no equity in the provision and offering of Government support to accommodation providers especially where taxpayers’ funds are used and they accuse the Prime Minister, a Tobagonian by birth of favouring Hospitality and Tourism operators in Tobago only.
This is very troubling, according to their membership.
Between 2015 and 2019, the Government collected approximately TT$275,881,137 in Hotel Room Tax from accommodation providers in both Trinidad and in Tobago. Hotels in Trinidad have paid TT$232,642,661 or 84% of that amount. The difference, TT$43,238,476 or 16% was paid in by hotels and guest houses based in Tobago.
What has the THRTA even more angry is the fact that Destination Trinidad receives the majority of all International Tourist Arrivals in the country – a fact known to the Government.
Pie in the sky projects
Over the past five years, 2015 – 2019, 95% of the Tourist Arrivals came to Trinidad while a mere 5% went to Tobago.
In terms of the number of persons employed in the hotel industry Trinidad surpasses Tobago by far with 1820 employees to 483. So why is Tobago alone being considered for Government assistance?
The Hospitality and Tourism industry in Trinidad is now tottering due to the effects, in the main, of covid-19 and as such many jobs will be at risk without urgent intervention by the Government.
The THRTA lamented the fact that there is no direct representation for the Hospitality and Tourism industry in the Prime Minister’s Roadmap to Recovery (post- COVIV-19) Committee.
In addition, Tobago’s Tourism industry over the years has been squandering taxpayers’ money over many pie in the sky projects with no accountability whatsoever and have even made two purchase of properties in Tobago which to date remain as while elephants.
The $50m grant to Tobago is also mired in corruption with a mere $4m going to the large hotels and $46m going to the smaller hotels many of which have been resurrected just to receive the grant from the Government.
The THRTA membership feels discriminated against having regard to the apparent prejudicial conduct in the government’s support for Destination Tobago and in its failure to support Destination Trinidad.