Member of Parliament for Couva North Ramona Ramdial’s remarks that “ghost hotels” are listed to access Government’s $50 million COVID-19 relief funding, is unfounded. This is according to Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Ancil Dennis.
In a media release on Monday Ramdial called on Dennis to explain how “unregistered and unknown” hotels were part of the THA list to receive the grant.
She claimed that her question was based on a Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association’s (THTA) statement that 270 of the 449 hotels did not qualify, Ramdial called on Dennis to be transparent about the distribution of funds.
She also said the THA should agree to the THTA’s counter-proposal for the grant.
Ramdial warned that a failure to implement the recommended proposal amounted to a strategy for election campaigning by the People’s National Movement (PNM) led the THA to underserving, unregistered hotels. However Dennis pointed to the THA’s Tobago Tourism Agency Limited’s (TTAL) 2019 Tourism Product Audit on the island’s accommodation sector.
He said only “tax-paying, registered properties qualified to access the grant.” A summary of the audit, on TTAL’s website, said Tobago 580 owners provided 3,700 rooms. It said the properties ranged from self-catering establishments to large hotels and villas.