The Tobago House of Assembly’s (THA’s) Division of Forestry, Food Production and Fisheries has issued special passes to Buccoo Reef boat operators to conduct tours at the Buccoo Marine Park, Tobago.
This comes on the heels of the Government’s decision to restart domestic tourism on the island.
At a news conference on Saturday, the Prime Minister announced operations will resume at the marine park in an attempt to generate some much-needed economic activity in Tobago.
Dr Rowley said Tobago’s economy was especially challenged owing to the effects of covid19 and needed to be put on a growth path.
Veteran boat operator Michael Frank said the passes were distributed on Tuesday morning.
But he regarded the passes as null and void because people still are not allowed to enter the water.
He said an officer from the Division of Food Production, Fisheries and Forestry also sent a Whatsapp message to the boat operators on Monday, saying although the marine park is opened, “persons must get permission from the division before they enter.”
Frank, who is the vice-president/PRO of the Buccoo Reef Tour Operators Association, told Newsday his colleagues are not keen to conduct tours in the marine park under the current restrictions. Dr Rowley gave permission to boats to enter the Buccoo Reef but visitors must stay on-board throughout the tour. Bathing at the famous Nylon Pool is also prohibited.
Frank said, “It makes no sense to operate because we can’t go on the beach. We can’t go in the water and the trip is a water trip.
“So, it makes no sense that the Prime Minister actually gave the order.”
Frank, owner of Frankie Tours, said the Nylon Pool is one of the highlights of the marine park.
“But the Minister of Health (Terrence Deyalsingh) says there will be no swimming in the water, which means you can’t go to the Nylon Pool and you are not allowed to swim on the beach.”
He added: “If they catch you on the beach, they will charge you because you are not supposed to be there. So, the exemption does not really make any sense because it is not valid on all sides.”
Frank said since Rowley’s announcement, people have been inquiring about the tours.
“People are basically coming to Store Bay to see if we are operating and what is the procedure.”
Newsday caught up with a woman at Store Bay, who said she simply wanted to know “if anything is happening at Store Bay.
“I wanted to see for myself because I could not understand what the prime minister said about the marine park. The whole idea of going to the marine park is to go in the Nylon Pool.”
Frank said although people will not be allowed to bathe in the Nylon Pool, the price of the tours will not change.
“It will still be $120 (per individual) for roughly three hours because it is a system controlled by the THA. So that is the standard price between the hours of 10 am and 4pm.”
He said if there are requests for a sunset cruise, then people can negotiate cost with specific tour boat operators.
Boats are also required to operate at half capacity.
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