Sandals’ pullout could be positive — Dr. Au­liana Poon

By Trinidad Gaurdian

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Managing Director of Tourism Intelligence International Auliana Poon.

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — An ex­pert in tourism in­tel­li­gence and de­vel­op­ment says the failed San­dals deal can be an op­por­tu­ni­ty to change this coun­try’s ap­proach to tourism.

Dr Au­liana Poon, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Tourism In­tel­li­gence In­ter­na­tion­al, a lead­ing in­ter­na­tion­al con­sul­tan­cy that has been op­er­at­ing for more than 25 years, said To­ba­go’s tourism stake­hold­ers must let the world know “the is­land is open for busi­ness, but per­haps not open to San­dals busi­ness and not in that for­mat.”

Tourism In­tel­li­gence In­ter­na­tion­al re­cent­ly beat more than 20 com­peti­tors to land the con­tract to de­vel­op Do­mini­ca’s Na­tion­al Tourism Pol­i­cy and Tourism Mas­ter Plan. The com­pa­ny con­tributed to the de­vel­op­ment of more than 100 des­ti­na­tions, in­clud­ing Abu Dhabi, An­tigua and Bar­bu­da, Aus­tralia, the Ba­hamas, Bar­ba­dos, Benin, Den­mark, Fin­land, Ger­many, Greece and Hong Kong.

“When San­dals talks about the neg­a­tive press for some peo­ple its neg­a­tive press, but the in­de­pen­dent trav­eller is hap­py that an in­de­pen­dent des­ti­na­tion is con­cerned about its en­vi­ron­ment . . . (and) wants to have trans­paren­cy,” Poon said.

She said such trav­ellers “would love to come to a coun­try where peo­ple have a voice and have a say. So I say it’s( ex­treme­ly pos­i­tive de­pend­ing on how you look at it.”

Poon, who runs Vil­la Be­ing, a high-end tourism re­sort in To­ba­go, said of the 1.5 bil­lion trav­ellers glob­al­ly, on­ly two per cent trav­el to the Caribbean. If the des­ti­na­tion could at­tract 100,000 of the 1.5 bil­lion peo­ple who are more con­scious and ed­u­cat­ed, those trav­ellers would be in­ter­est­ed that To­ba­go is con­cerned about the en­vi­ron­ment, she said.

She al­so said To­ba­go might not have been ready for a project of the mag­ni­tude pro­posed by the Gov­ern­ment and San­dals.

“We need to re­think the strat­e­gy of just build­ing the stuff and let­ting some­body else come to man­age it. The re­al mon­ey is in the man­age­ment. Do we have the man­age­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties to run it?” Poon asked.

She sug­gest­ed that the Caribbean send stu­dents to the top uni­ver­si­ties in Switzer­land to study ho­tel man­age­ment so that they can re­turn to man­age the is­lands’re­sources.

Ac­cord­ing to Poon, San­dals might not have been what To­ba­go need­ed at this point.

“Club Med in­vent­ed this hol­i­day where peo­ple de­scend­ed on this vil­lage for sun, sand, sea and sex and what have you but where is Club Med to­day? Club Med had its day,” she said.

“The point I’m mak­ing is San­dals had 30 to 40 years of fan­tas­tic growth and de­vel­op­ment. I’m ask­ing is this the end of the life cy­cle we jump­ing on to? Is it that To­ba­go is now try­ing to per­fect the pro­duc­tion of type­writ­ers when every­body wants a com­put­er? Is this the end of the line? Is this on­ly thing? What is com­ing af­ter that?”

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One comment

  1. You have a vested interest you want no compotition so you can chat what ever you like. The fact of the matter is that Trinidad economy has been in a tail spin for the last 3 years and the government is desperately seeking investment. Sandals did not invite themselves they were invited by the government due to their excellent product and air lift capacity not to mention a great source of foreign currency contributions. What environmental concerns ?? It can't be no greater than those of the oil fields Trinidad of which Trinidad neighbor's have feared for decade's. It might be good for you but for the average Tobagan who endures a high rate of unemployment sandals was a ray of hope that finally thing's were coming there way. All the Germans who brought out the prime lands on Tobago were fighting sandals. Stop the verbal comaflage and call it for what it is its Jamaican and we don't want it there no matter the cost or loss.

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