Becoming “the greatest little island on the planet”: Tobago woos foreign investment

Tobago officials visit London to woo foreign direct investment. photo shows Tobago representatives at the House of Lords.
Tobago investment promotion team joined by Lord Bruce and Baroness Benjamin. [photo: Debbie Ransome]


Tobago has become the latest Caribbean territory to seek foreign investment in the UK.

Its efforts come hot on the heels of similar promotional events staged in London by Guyana and the Bahamas in a bid to woo funding, all steered by the London-based Caribbean Council and tracked by Caribbean Intelligence©.

Representing one of the smallest of the potential investment destinations to date, Tobago’s administrative, tourism, business and public relations team were clear on what their island had to offer to foreign investors.

Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Farley Augustine said his island wanted foreign partners to help make the most of its “God-given resources”. “Tobago is on the move,” the THA Chief told a Caribbean Council reception at the House of Lords.


​​​​THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine
THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine



He described the aim of his administration for Tobago “to become the greatest little island on the planet”.


He said Tobago had a dedicated digital transformation ministry, a solid infrastructure with low energy prices, light manufacturing and a “competitive advantage” in its tourism. He added that the island already had a dedicated beach sports arena, established for the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games, with plans for palliative health tourism and other areas beyond traditional tourism offers.





Geographical advantage

While many view Tobago as the smaller partner in the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr Farley was keen to point out his territory’s continuing aspiration for greater autonomy from its oil-rich twin. He said that his team had been looking at the UK’s progress in devolution as they studied ways of winning more local powers for Tobago. Mr Augustine outlined the potential of a new international commercial port and Tobago’s geographic advantage, being central to all journeys in the southern Caribbean and Latin American region.

Referring to historic ties between Britain and Tobago (which was joined to Trinidad in 1889), Mr Farley said that he wanted the UK to rekindle direct investment. “Tobago is available for direct foreign investment,” he told his audience of UK business people.

Also speaking at the reception, Trinidad-born UK broadcaster and parliamentarian Baroness Floella Bejamin pointed to investment in existing parts of Tobago’s tourism infrastructure, such as the Mount Irvine beach resort.


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“Managing the sharks”

Demonstrating how real life can trump fiction, news of a rare shark attack on a British tourist in Tobago had been dominating the UK news a week before the Tobago promotion team arrived to seek investment for their tourism offer.

The team shrugged it off in the best of Trini and Tobagonian fashion. “I promise you that we are managing all the sharks,” Mr Farley told his audience, outlining the top-level health care the tourist had received.

While neighbour Trinidad has seen the development of high-rise building stock in recent decades, Tobagonians have long been proud of holding on to what visiting travel writers often refer to as their unspoilt tourism offer. They are so proud of their natural resources that a public consultation is under way over proposals for a Marriott hotel and property development following concerns raised by environmental groups.

Caribbean Intelligence© asked Curtis Williams, the head of the Tobago Chamber of Commerce, whether his team wanted to prioritise investment for existing infrastructure or seek new investment. “We will be looking for both,” he said. “We have some plans for upgrading and we welcome partners to come in and assist those plans in upgrading. And we’re looking for new investments coming into Tobago.”

Asked about the tall Miami-styled tourism buildings springing up in some resorts across the Caribbean and central American region, Mr Williams said: “I can guarantee that you will not see Miami-styled condos. You will see buildings that embrace the environment and the fabric look of the island. So, we will keep it clean, safe and serene as we move along.”


Debbie Ransome is the Managing Editor of Caribbean Intelligence.