AFTER nearly two years of no direct international flights to Tobago due to government restrictions over Covid-19, British Airways landed at Arthur NR Robinson International Airport yesterday afternoon.
Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly Farley Augustine, who was on hand at the airport to welcome the airline back, told reporters his return was a positive start for Tobago, as a little less 90 passengers disembarked from the plane.
“I am delighted that British Airways is back and that we have been able to maintain our partnerships. We hope the number of passengers who disembarked yesterday is a good sign for things to come, as some islands started with fewer passengers when flights have resumed and are doing pretty well now,” Augustine said.
The Chief Secretary said what needs to happen now is that the island needs to craft its Covid response in a firm way and also reopen the economy and get business back up and running.
Tourism and Transport Secretary Tashia Grace Burris, who was also present, said the airline’s passenger numbers were a good sign and she hopes Tobago can get back to the 100,000 passengers it once had at the start. of the 2000s.
“Some think we may not hit those numbers, but when I gave Express Business those numbers last week, no timeline was given. This administration is known for dreaming big and those numbers will come back in the foreseeable future,” Burris said.
She said it was important to engage stakeholders to ensure their businesses can get back up and running and encourage greater collaboration with the division and tourism stakeholders.
“The solution lies in us and in being innovative at this time. The way we did things before is no longer the way we can continue to operate. Stands, regulation and ROI are the three key things we intend to pursue. »
Burris said the tourism industry needs to be at the forefront again.
She added that Virgin Atlantic is expected to resume flights to the island at the end of the month.
Carol-Ann Birchwood-James, vice president of the island’s Hotel and Tourism Association, commented on the airline’s return to Tobago, who said it was good news and the hotels that are open for business are ready to welcome them.
Birchwood-James said it was high time for the island to reopen to international flights, as the tourism industry has been in dire straits for almost two years, due to the closure of borders to international flights at Tobago.