$50M for Tobago hotel, B&B room upgrades to weather coronavirus impact
Measures are being taken to ensure that Tobago survives the effects of a downturn in global tourism as a result of the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Government announced at a media briefing on March 23, 2020, several measures to assist Tobagonians through economic hardships as global travel comes to a halt in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.
Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said government had previously announced the provision of grants for hoteliers for upgrading room facilities during the low season in the 2019/2020 national budget, which can now be carried out with the current lull in visitors.
Gopee-Scoon said government is looking at the enhancement of some 3,800 rooms which would be ‘across the board’ for hotels, guesthouses and bed and breakfasts, costing a total of TT$50 million, according to Finance Minister Colm Imbert.
She said additionally the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) provides an Enhanced Enterprise Association Assistance Fund and an Enhance Enterprise Assistance Grant facility which will help small and micro-entrepreneurs outside of the tourism industry.
Government has allocated $5 million toward both facilities, with loans of up to $200,000 and grants of up to $25,000.
Additionally, Minister Gopee-Scoon assured that there is no shortage of food and supplies in Tobago.
She said supermarkets are receiving food supplies and measures are being taken by the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce to ensure major distributors are fully stocked.
Gopee-Scoon also urged Tobago businesses to keep their staff employed for at least four weeks in order to weather the effects of COVID-19 measures.
She also assured that the air and sea bridge continues as normal in order to bring across supplies.