Tuesday, July 10, 2012

International Shame of an International Airport.

ANR Robinson Internal Airport
Crown Point Tobago

The ANR Robinson International Airport (TAB) formally the Crown Point international is located at the South-western end the Island Tobago.  A mere 11/kilometers or 7 miles from the main town Scarborough, it serves as the chief gateway to its inhabitants and visitors alike. With just about 72 years since its was commission, this small, informal  airport has managed to maintain a zero casualty, with only minor situations occurring.  to date.

Over the years small changes have been made, such as the mid 80's upgrade for the terminal building, the expansion which finished in 1992 in order to accommodate wide winged aircraft and the 2000 and beyond where we've seen changes to taxiway repairs, upgraded electrical station, new domestic departure lounge, modernize aircraft control among others. However, these changes are vastly inadequate to the overall importance and true function of this Airport. In addition, the image of this so-called internally airport and the building's aesthetics leaves much to be desired.

Allow me skip to the last phase of a tourist's visit to Tobago. One that is marred with extreme heat, unprofessional security personnel, inadequate seating, and little variety for duty free shopping. As the last experience for any visitor to this country the Internal Departure Lounge at the ANR Robinson airport is in dire need of refurbishment. There is very little to do at the airport and even less in the Departure lounge, which has nothing but a small bar, a couple of souvenir boutiques selling t-shirts and local crafts, and a small duty-free shop with a limited choice (local rum TT$40-50 plus cheap cigarettes) but no electrical goods, watches or quality jewellery, etc. The departure lounge gets extremely hot and crowded, especially when in-transits are allowed to mixed with departing visitors, insofar that at times there are only standing seats.

This unpleasant, unattractive site affects the reputation of this tourist island, as persons must leave with a "sour taste" of how 3rd world, international airports are managed. Even more notable is how unkind this departure lounge is to persons suffering from disabilities, as they must make their way down at least 2 flights of stairs to get to ground level before embarking on the unfriendly journey through sun or rain to get to the aircraft.

It is high time that some meaningful changes be done to this Airport. What a Shame that Mr. Robinson's name must be on this rejected pavilion, something that is far less than the statue of man he is. Tobago's economy depends in most part on tourism, yet we continue to leave this bitter taste that is engraved in the memory of every visitor at the end of their sojourn. How counter productive and ill marketed can we get? We need to start with the basics when it comes to tourism. Tobago need to get it right. In a highly competitive and globalized world, we cannot continue with 19th century efforts, we must therefore employ and embrace modernize tactics if we are to survive in this epochs. As a young Tobagonians, I am appalled at  what we call an International Airport. Moreover, it is disheartening to deal with visitors who must constantly remind you with their murmurs and complains about how inadequate the facility is.

This beautiful island deserves better and it is quite clear that our tourism product is lacking in more ways than one. However, we need to aggressively build a 21st century tourism product and experience if we are going to continue to hold on to tourism as our main industry. Please I beseech the powers that be, Put a Hand, Save the island's Tourism.    

Written by O.J.Noel
10th July 2012

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