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Tobago tourism stakeholders upset

By Elizabeth Williams Tobago Bureau

Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz is not happy with the way the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) has dealt with the pull out of Virgin Atlantic from Tobago for next year's summer season.

The Minister said it is nothing short of a disservice to the tourism sector in Tobago.

"I was a bit taken aback when the THA said that they did not need any help from Central Government when it came to Virgin, that they would go it on their own, and I hate saying it, but we see the results of that," Cadiz said yesterday.

The Minister was speaking with stakeholders in the tourism business in Tobago at Coco Reef Resort.

After listening to the concerns of hoteliers and persons in the tourism sector, with respect to problems on the Trinidad to Tobago air bridge, he said a meeting with Caribbean Airlines will be arranged to address the many issues.

"It is obvious that there is a problem that we have with the air bridge and it has to be addressed in some way. We have to find a way to make this air bridge work," he said.

And while stakeholders gathered to discuss the matter, many told the Express they are fed up with the "political football" being played, in dealing with the air bridge situation.

The pull out of Virgin flights for the summer is not sitting well with stakeholders who are set to lose thousands of dollars. In 2005, there were 11 weekly international flights operating to and from Tobago, but today that number stands at three.

THA Tourism Secretary Oswald Williams said the THA was only made aware of Virgin's intention on November 26 and given until November 30.

When the call was made on the 30th to discuss the THA's proposal, the summer flight had already been lost.

Stakeholders are also calling for Caribbean Airlines to dedicate additional flights to Tobago from Trinidad, as too many visitors are left stranded in Trinidad.

The Tobago House of Assembly has long voiced its dissatisfaction with Caribbean Airlines and the need for more seats for the travelling public.

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