Tobago’s economy branches out from tourism
Tobago’s economy is almost equally divided between the public sector/civil service (particularly local and central government) and tourism, each accounting for about 50% of the workforce. The global economic climate, including a new travel tax implemented in the UK, has significantly impacted the tourism industry.
The Airports Authority tallied international visitor air arrivals to Tobago at 56,517 for 2008, down 15% from 66,266 in 2007. Arrivals have no halved since then in the wake of the global economic downturn. Tobago has also suffered from inflationary pressures over the last few years, particularly in the area of food prices. While the tourism industry is expected to recover and rebound strongly after the downturn, economic diversification is not only desirable but necessary.
To this end, the much-publicised Cove Eco-Industrial Estate and Business Park (CEIDP), brainchild of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), is nearing completion. Promoting light industry, CEIDP will accommodate knowledge-based industry including information technology, light manufacturing, agro-processing and export as well as selected downstream activities related to natural gas. It will also house a receiving/metering facility for natural gas from Trinidad.
Investment is encouraged through various tax holidays, incentives and exemptions, including those on import duty. Additional incentives apply to the export-processing zone. Potential investors are invited to apply for space in the business park and can contact Vernie Shield, Chairman, Tobago Division of the T&T Chamber of Commerce, for information concerning investment in Tobago.
Further developments will result from a major natural gas discovery in January 2008. Reports estimate Petro-Canada’s Cassra 1 Well, 14 miles off Tobago’s northwest coast, could yield between 0.6 and 1.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Meanwhile, the most fertile investment atmosphere for medium to large businesses is still tourism, though the entrepreneurial sector has plenty of scope for expansion.
If you’re looking to do business, a good place to start is the Chamber of Commerce. Official Tobagonian business hours are Monday to Friday 8am–4:30pm.
Some business contacts
- Cove Eco-Industrial & Business Park, Tobago House of Assembly (Scarborough):631-2683, www.tobagocove.com
- Tobago Hotel & Tourism Association (Carnbee): 639-9543, www.tobagohoteltourism.com
- Tobago House of Assembly: www.tha.gov.tt
- Trinidad & Tobago Chamber of Industry & Commerce: Tobago Division (Scarborough): 639-2669, www.chamber.org.tt
- Trinidad & Tobago Entertainment Company: 624-0514, www.ttentonline.com
- Trinidad & Tobago Film Company: 625-FILM (3456), www.trinidadandtobagofilm.com
- Trinidad & Tobago Government Portal: www.gov.tt