While in the city for the annual Island Soul event at Harbourfront Centre over the Toronto Carnival weekend, Tobago’s secretary of finance and enterprise development, Joel Jack, met with potential investors.
“I am greatly enthused by the opportunities for partnering with Tobago businesses that I have already seen here,” said Jack during his first visit to Canada. “We believe that Canada, like most other economies around the world, was affected by the global economic crisis. Unlike most other economies, however, Canada is one of the few that recovered fairly quickly and didn’t suffer the debilitating economic crisis that major economies are still recovering from. This can be attributed, no doubt, to the fact that Canada has one of the soundest banking systems in the world.
“Our mission here is to market Tobago’s products in such a way that we develop and expand the trade relationship between our two spaces and send a message that Tobago is ready and open for business.”
Jack used the opportunity to promote the Cove Eco-Industrial & Business Park as a preferred location for business development and Tobago as a destination of choice for Canadians.
He said the island has a lot to offer, including a range of goods based on the island’s unique culture, its people’s warmth and a pristine environment that’s preserved and protected.
“Clean, green, safe and serene is our vision and I am sure that’s a vision that’s in keeping with the vision of Canadians who, while in Tobago, can be assured of a very different and truly wonderful experience which allows Canadians to travel and enjoy themselves while maintaining their core values in relation to the environment,” said Jack.
Tracy Davidson-Celestine, the island’s deputy chief secretary with responsibility for tourism and transportation, accompanied Jack to Toronto.
She said Tobago’s pristine beauty along with its nearly 20 beaches, waterfalls, nature trails and heritage sites, make the island an attractive destination for visitors.
“We cater to the needs of almost every traveller,” said Davidson-Celestine. “We have the largest brain coral and the oldest rainforest with over 38 species of birds and different hiking trails in the western hemisphere. We also have one of the most celebrated heritage events – the Tobago Heritage festival – and the annual Jazz Festival that takes place next year from April 18-22. For those interested in culinary delights, there is the signature curry crab and dumpling.”
Davidson-Celestine said that the 5,000-seat Shaw Park Cultural Complex and Conference Centre opens in January and significant upgrades have been done to the 60-acre Pigeon Point Heritage Park, a popular tourist attraction with coconut palms, shallow turquoise sea and long stretches of white sand.
“We are putting in romance huts because one of the things we want to do here is encourage romance visits to Tobago,” she said.
Nearly 16 vessels were sunk in the Scarborough harbour during fierce battles between the French and the Dutch for control of the island in the 17th century.
In May 2012, researchers from the University of Connecticut received approval from the Tobago House of Assembly to proceed with rescue excavation, conservation, preservation and assistance with long-term curation work on artifacts found on sunken ships in the harbour.
A purpose-built conservation facility will be established in Tobago to ensure that the artifacts can be catalogued and maintained.
“To date, there has been the sighting of some of those important archaeological findings and we are in the process of having them removed to the conservatory where we will see the process started to conserve those artifacts, so to speak,” said Davidson-Celestine. “We expect that by 2015, visitors and other individuals will be able to visit some of those historical finds.”
The exhibits will be displayed at the Tobago Underwater Museum.
The Tobago Heritage Drummers & Dancers, led by Dominic Williams and Aquisia Frederick Limbo Duo performed at the Island Soul event on the WestJet stage on Carnival Monday.
Canadian visitors can fly from Toronto daily on Caribbean Airlines and WestJet to Trinidad and connect with Caribbean Airlines for the regular 20-minute flights to Tobago.