Trinidad and Tobago Finance Minister Colm Imbert recently revealed that Sandals is prepping to open a new resort in Tobago, a construction project that will have both immediate and long-term benefits for the nation’s economy. He offered an ambitious estimate for the overall economic: $500 million local dollars per year, or $75 million USD.
Update: Finance TnT has learned that the planned Sandals Resort for Tobago has been shelved indefinitely.
“It is expected that Sandals will purchase over $100 million annually in local goods and services, directly benefiting local service providers, entertainers, tour guides, and attraction providers,” said Imbert, according to the Trinidad Express. “Local transportation and taxi associations will benefit through contractual arrangements of transport of visitors from the airport to the resort and to and from local sites and attractions daily. Original projections indicate that Sandals’ contribution to Trinidad and Tobago’s economy will be of the order of $500 million per year.”
Photo: The pool area at a Sandals resort in Cuba. Finance Minister Colm Imbert hopes the firm’s new property in Tobago can jumpstart the tourism sector. (Credit: Ashley Burton)
The construction of the massive facility will also add thousands of jobs. The minister said that 2,000 will be employed during the build, which is expected to last more than two years. After that, ongoing operations at the resort will employ at least 1,500 people.
And Imbert believes that long-term job creation can even surpass 2,000 in time. “At completion and at start up over 1,500 employees are expected to be engaged,” Imbert told the Express. “Hundreds more will be employed in indirect activities. It is expected that after five years, once a Sandals resort in Tobago has been fully established, the direct employment opportunity will grow to over 2,000 persons in well-paid jobs.”
The other major impact is an expansion at the airport. Imbert announced that, in preparation for the jump in tourists coming to the new resort, construction will begin next year on a new international terminal at Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson International Airport in Crown Point, Tobago.
This couldn’t come at a better time. Flush with energy-sector money, Trinidad and Tobago had been not paying enough attention to promoting itself as a tourism destination in recent years, said the minister. Now, with a major household name brining its “aggressive international marketing strategy,” this will help ensure the country stays on the radar for foreign tourists looking for a Caribbean getaway.
“It is clear that, with abundant oil and gas revenues, we paid insufficient attention to the sector,” Imbert told the Expess. “We intend to correct this oversight. The reality is that tourism is a sector in which we have a significant comparative advantage notwithstanding the looming presence of Cuba on tourism the need to intensify our efforts to make tourism an important driver in our diversification.”