PHOTO: A Tobago ocean view. (photo via Flickr/sergio_leenen)
“Trinidad and Tobago is a gold mine just waiting to be discovered.”
That’s what Adam Stewart, CEO of Sandals Resorts, said recently at the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce 12th Annual Champions of Business Award Ceremony held at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain. The younger Stewart, who is the son of Sandals founder Gordon Stewart, addressed the crowd, and spoke of Sandals Resorts’ desire to expand and build a 750-room resort in Tobago, saying that the “rising tide will lift all boats” referring to the ability of a Sandals Resort to benefit the island and its residents as a whole.
The arrival of a Sandals Resort, he said, would spur economic growth on the island, which has slipped into recession following a sharp drop in oil prices. He encouraged the crowd to recognize that as they “consider new paths to economic growth [that] now is the time for Trinidad and Tobago to make way for tourism, ‘Sandals style’.” Sandals Resorts is well-versed in the inner working of the region, he explained, and is aware of the vital role it plays in strengthening the economies of the destinations where they have resorts.
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Knowing the Caribbean and the critical role that tourism plays throughout the region, Stewart said that they would “never work in a silo. Sandals Resorts become part and parcel of the place where we operate. Our success trickles down and up and sideways and all ways... Whenever and as much as we can, we buy local.” He emphasized that the island’s entire economy would profit as the resort would provide upward of 1,800 jobs and create a healthy demand for local farmers’ goods.
By way of proof, Stewart cited the fact that in Jamaica alone, the company purchased $1.5 million worth of melon, lettuce, pineapples and potatoes in 2015. He went on to note that with a resort the size of what they are planning, guests would consumer nearly 350,000 bottles of water, 215,000 bottles of beer and 925,000 eggs each year.
Just the construction of the resort would add much-needed jobs and cash to the economy, he noted, pointing out that they would need to hire approximately 2,500 to 3,000 people during the building process and would pay out approximately $80 million in payroll, taxes, and other services.
He also addressed the issue of lift, noting that wherever Sandals built a resort, air lift followed and that just as importantly, not all seats were for guests headed to a Sandals Resorts. Other properties will benefit as well.