Potenially Tobago

10 May 2016


The sister isle of the twin-island state of Trinidad and Tobago; 116 square miles of lush green land known to many – both residents and visitors – as one of the best pieces of real estate on the planet and certainly in the southern Caribbean.

It is also known to others as a target for all those seeking sea, sun and sand. A combination which can be found in numerous countries the world over, but when you add the Triple-S to “clean, green, safe and serene”, you can get nothing else but Tobago.

 

Pigeon_Point_beach

 

 

 

 

That said, does anyone view Tobago as a business hub? No. Not Yet. But yes, potentially so…

But what potential are we talking about, right? There is no light or heavy manufacturing, no raw materials, little to no financial or business intellectual resources, nothing that could make the place a budding state for business development or an attraction to eager entrepreneurs in search of business opportunities.

The foregoing notwithstanding, Tobago’s potential, though sleeping, lies there waiting to be discovered, unearthed, explored, tapped, nurtured, spread – you get the picture – and shared with all those who have a nose for sniffing out new business, new opportunities, new money.

In other words: all who name businessman; come Tobago!
The potential is there, but not obvious to those without interest in research and development or those satisfied with a few retail outlets. Economic activity is slow and lethargic but waiting for the business engines to grind fast, and later, furious. The land is here, the people are here, patient (but anxious), willing and ready to bring about the change into something grand; a Tobago land of “hope and glory” where the dependency on Big Sister would come to an end and equal partnership between these two siblings will emerge and prevail as the new way forward through due parliamentary process and gazetted protocol.

But wait a minute. Hold up Winston, you say. How exactly is all of this happening with no visible signs that this potential could become a reality, and in addition to that, the scarcity of any highly paid economists willing to back this up as a viable development route?
My response: development in Tobago is development for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Let us be mindful of this national fact. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will Tobago so now let us examine the potential.

Scarborough

The capital.

What’s there to look at from a visitor’s viewpoint? A disappointing and disheartening sight of under-developed sits. Just a few modern-looking buildings housing financial institutions and small-town shopping centres crying out desperately and sometimes desperation makes way for a crazy LOL, hoping for someone to pass by with a great idea as to how to attract more business and by extension more customers who will purchase more goods and services. Searching for better quality and bigger quantity way beyond what currently exists in the areas of the port, airport and other downtown pockets.

 

Port_of_Scarborough_C_IMG_2844

 

There is the chain of fast-food outlets, the small to medium-sized supermarkets, the vegetable stores, the wayside vendors bringing challenges to city-planners. Some of these may not survive the next ten years, destined to be taken over by new owners who will eventually suffer the same near-to-close-down fate, if nothing changes.

Crown Point

 

The Crown Point Community Partnership is a newly formed association of business people operating in the area which has its min focus on the protection of the interests of its members and the wider business community in this unofficially designated tourism mecca, beginning to look like the second capital, buzzing with activity every day and night and with a special verve reserved for the weekends.

Located in the southwest of the island, Crown Point is two square miles of new but fast growing businesses which will double in revenue and size within the next ten years. Entertainment, food and fund in a safe environment. Come experience it for yourself. This is not the Crown Point of your childhood which began and ended at Store Bay.

Accommodation, tourism, construction…drive around and you will start believing what you are now reading.

Industry

For the most part Tobago is seen as an island with a tourism sector which has begun to make a name for itself in the sub-sector of ecotourism. Foreigners and locals alike (Trinis) can participate in hiking, bird watching and zip-lining to name a few. Even though tourism is a solid sector that brings a lot of revenue to Tobago, there is only so much tourism can do.

Within recent times, some of the pocketed landscape has been purchased for erecting different construction sites including office spaces and housing complexes. Despite the recent unfortunate crimes, tourists continue to claim Tobago as a place for solace and therefore a place to retire.

In addition to housing and real estate markets, Tobago is a viable place for agriculture. Not only is the flying fish native to Tobago, the fishery industry has capabilities to grow. Tobago has a pristine mangrove which is an excellent place to start up shrimp and crab farming.  Mangrove provides the right temperatures, algae deposits as well as other advantages for the shrimp industry to flourish.

People

Tobago has approximately 50 to 60,000 people according to bandied about statistics and we are told that some 60 to 80 percent of the employed are on the payroll of the Tobago House of Assembly and by extension, the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. We have been hearing that Tobago needs another 10 to 20,000 people to improve market potential. We have also heard that approximately 350,000 Tobagonians reside and work in Trinidad. We Tobagonians hear a lot of things. But is it all true? And if true, how does it change the price of cocoa anyway?

Would some Tobagonians return home if opportunities presented themselves, to contribute to the growth and development of their island? Or leave the blanket of the THA to step out into entrepreneurship? And even if they did, how would this impact the economy of Tobago in this time of severe economic downturn?

I don’t have the answers, but I can suggest some solutions. Industries to target: hospitality, medical services, academia, IT.

So can we start pulling this thing together now?

Tobago needs to be invigorated and is presently waiting for a jump-start. Maybe that jump-start will come from the exploratory activities off the north shore of Tobago. Someday soon, something will big will happen and Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s will have no choice but to upgrade T&T’s sovereign and bond ratings based on the potential for economic growth. Tobago say so.

Get on board! Now is the time for business noses sniffing for new opportunities to pick up Tobago’s (clean and green) scent. Forge a path and reap the rewards of the brave.

See what we can do for you, in Tobago. Your next profit sector? Potentially…Tobago.

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