Tobago's Delicate Environment

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Paul Tallet
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Tobago's Delicate Environment

Post by Paul Tallet »

I know that you are all dreading the posts I submit after my holidays to Tobago but, I love the place and I sense I get more out of Tobago than most visitors. This is the first of a few posts I will make.

Tobago’s Tourist Industry is struggling. Tobago desperately needs you, most of the resorts are empty and there are only a few areas in Tobago that still thrive and it is no surprise to me that these few areas are not resorts … although the Blue Waters Inn seems to be doing ok.

I am a non-resort advocate, I shun resorts in favour of investment in local Tobagonian business interests, yet those that use resorts or packaged villa holidays need not feel excluded from adventure … there is much to see if you go in search of it and I encourage you to do so rather than going on boring, sweaty bus tours around the island … it is no wonder that nobody comes back.

There are some that would prefer the comfort of a resort, fair enough and especially for the disabled, but that should not prevent you from detaching yourselves and going on an adventure … you do not need a guide.

Tobago is one of few Caribbean Islands where you can hire a car, drive off and get lost, asking for directions along the way or using those Tobago Maps that are available for free when you check into Customs on arrival.

Compare this to Jamaica, for example, where tourists are being kept in the resorts for their safety … they can’t go anywhere.

Yes, I know, some tourists have been assaulted, robbed or even killed but we are talking about isolated cases that also happen on other popular Carribean Islands like St Lucia and Antigua, such is the hazard of touring anywhere in the world … compare this to the 300 deaths in Jamaica since the beginning of January 2018! Jamaica is currently in ‘lock-down’.

I love Tobago. It is because I like to explore and that I CAN EXPLORE and the more I explore the more I discover and I am still discovering new delights after 2 decades although, to be honest, I do have some reluctance in sharing some of my experiences that relate to some of the remotest and most beautiful areas that I sense a very small minority of visitors get lucky enough to see, let alone immerse themselves in.

So why should I tell you? Go find these places yourselves like I have done, that's the best part of any Tobago experience ... you are free to explore.

During my stay, a Cruise Ship containing 3,500 passengers docked in Scarborough. About 2,000 of them took buses to Pigeon Pointless. The buses passed Cable Bay and Bago’s Bar before they arrived at Pigeon Pointless.

I took photos … Pigeon Pointless was swarming and the sea water was milky green from the sun cream and yet less than a mile away was an empty Cable Bay with pristine clear emerald water and 2 Trinidadians standing in it (as they do) and an empty Bago’s Bar (apart from me being in it, as I do).

The next day, I visited Mount Irvine. A number of the cruise ship passengers had gone there too which explained why I could not see my hand in front of my face when snorkelling there … Sun Cream again.

This is wrong … The Tobago Tourism Prevention Department is congesting too few sites … ‘ok, you want a day out in Tobago? Try Pigeon Point, beautiful. Mount Irvine is good too, great facilities. Nah Englishman’s Bay is a little too far out of the way, too far to travel’ … thankfully!?!

In my opinion, the key tourist sites of Tobago are going to be destroyed if the Tourist Prevention Department continues to send vast numbers of Cruise Ship passengers to these sites for a quick buck for a day … Charlotteville is also under threat.

It is, of course, worth noting that the THA own Pigeon Pointless … hmmmm.

The point I want to get across here is that, even though Tobago’s general tourism industry is on it’s knees, a minority of sites are getting hammered and it is ironic that this is happening when Tobago has much more to offer.

My own selfishness and hypocrisy hopes that the real gems of Tobago remain undiscovered.

Pigeon Pointless is pretty nice looking for sure but it remains an important part of Tobago’s delicate eco-system and there are some critically endangered sites not very far away, such as Bon Accord Lagoon that contains important Mangroves, breeding grounds and nurseries for juvenile fish that we see in Tobago’s dwindling and pretty Coral Reefs.

Sadly, there are some nice isolated coral reefs close to Pigeon Point but you have to travel outside of the ‘jet-ski exclusion zone’ and risk getting shredded to see them.

Only a few boat operators offer tours of the Bon Accord Lagoon (try Ali-Ba-Ba Tours based in Castara).

And speaking of ‘Eco’ … Tobago has a landfill site and, currently, everything goes there. When I visit a supermarket in Tobago I have a physical challenge to remove the packer at the end of the till that puts your shopping into doubled-up plastic bags. I prefer to use my own shopping bags that I brought from the UK which I use again and again and again wherever I shop.

Readers … please follow my example and make a stand against these psychopathic shopping packers … they should all be sacked and employed to go collect the rubbish accumulating in the rainforest and on the Atlantic facing beaches.

It’s shocking … I have heard word of Eco plans being thought of and the closest Tobago seems to be to being environmentally friendly is the financially incentivised glass bottle returns for Carib and Stag Beers.

Tobago should look at Costa Rica as a fine example of eco-friendly and renewable resources … it could be solved very quickly.

Ok … so I looked a bit of a retard in separating glasses from plastics from paper from cardboard from tin and, I guess, my smiling daily cleaner gathered it all up and dumped it in the communal bin … this HAS TO CHANGE.

Then I return to the ‘may never happen’ Sandals Resort. Of course, if Sandals get it right, this could be an opportunity to demonstrate a little eco-friendly nous although I am concerned about the concentration of the resorts (assuming they are ever occupied again) around a small area of Tobago … where does all the waste actually go?

So … Tobago has work to do. What can we do?

• Take shopping bags with us
• Better still, take chill bags so your butter doesn’t melt before you get back to your apartment
• Split your litter … make a stand … be awkward
• Moan about it … mention it to cleaners, management, supermarkets … eventually the message may get through
• Allow litter to build up in your hire car (it’s better there than on the roadside) and don’t be embarrassed, behave as if it is perfectly acceptable … diplomacy would involve using a garbage bag in the car (although I might get some personal fun out of separating the rubbish in the car as well :mrgreen: )
• If baggage permits, take aerosols back home with you for correct disposal
• Complain to whoever about any plastics in the sea (collect it if you can), turtles can mistake plastics for jellyfish which is part of their diet
• Moan about fly-tipping and rubbish dumped in the rainforest and how unsightly you find it from a tourist’s perspective
• Feed food scraps to wildlife … Tanagers eat most things, bananaquits only sugar, pigeons eat most things, free range chickens eat anything (even chicken!) but they don’t like tomatoes (for some reason). Dogs also eat most things too and don’t worry about bones, they can handle it.

We should kick up a real stink … you will talk to many Tobagonians about it and they will agree … in theory … they won’t do anything unless tourists really moan.

Then maybe Tobago might get some tourism back … currently, Tobago is unsightly, there is a disproportionate spread of visitor sites and real risk of human induced environmental damage that is unnecessary considering the natural challenges to the environment that already exist in many places today.

Tobago won't benefit from being avoided, it can only benefit from the feedback it needs from visitors.

Please note that I excuse all boat operators that do a magnificent job of cleaning up Beach BBQ sites such as No-Man’s Land.

I will do an up to date culinary review next when I get a chance.

Paul Tallet
Public Relations Consultant for Mother Nature

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Re: Tobago's Delicate Environment

Post by Ronald »

Well done Paul!

You should be working in THA. But on the other hand, your blood pressure might be so high than so you have to go to hospital toi be able to survival.

I did write a lot, but the Internet did deliete it ALL! Here a few things I remember.

DUMPING PLACES. You find them beside many small roads, often beside a sign from THA, "NO DUMPING"!
PLASTIC BAGS, correct Paul, the use of them is crazy. I used to bring my small back-pack and they often look at me "Crazy tourist"!
PLASTIC AROUND FOOD, I do not understand why they mostly put things you buy into smaller plastic bags, just to be put into a bigger one. Bread into supermarkets are alrady into plastic bag, no need of extras. Eggs, hot-dogs and other kind of meat, and MOSTLY things you buy are already int a plastic. Skip the plastic bags!
EMPTY GLASS BOTTLES, Carib and Stag they take back, but what about other bottles in glass? Let us say it take 100% energy to produce a new bottle from the original material from earth, when melting down old bottles, broken glass and use that to produce new bottles, one use only 10-15% of the energy compared with making bottles from raw material. They seems not to understand how much energy they can save!
WATER AND SOFT DRINKS, are mostly sold in plastic bottles, these plastic produce a bad gas in one burn them, they should go back to the factory.

In almost all countries in Europe, they do not sell these big amounts of plastic bottles for soft drinks, water or what ever it is. In Sweden all bottles are i glass, no plastic bottles are allowed.

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Steve Wooler
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Re: Tobago's Delicate Environment

Post by Steve Wooler »

Brilliant post, Paul. I struggle to argue with any of your points. :)
Steve Wooler - the definitive Visitor Guide to Tobago

Rick Hernandez
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Re: Tobago's Delicate Environment

Post by Rick Hernandez »

Great Post Paul - You brought up a couple of things I should do the next time I go. Tobago is wonderful and could be even better ! All the best Rick

Ben D
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Re: Tobago's Delicate Environment

Post by Ben D »

A bit if education locally wouldn't go amiss re the rubbish issue. I don't see how you can blame double bagging etc. When people throw litter about all over the place rather than binning it.
I visit regularly, and do a lot of shore fishing all over the island. I have a very good Tobagonian friend, who I go with most of the time.It drives him crazy when he sees people throwing litter out of their cars, mainly take away food boxes and bottles, and he isn't afraid of confronting them. They usually pick it up and drive off, probably chucking it out down the lane.
Much as I love the island and Tobagonians, I feel sometimes they really don't appreciate what they've got, and the value of keeping it nice so people keep coming to visit.
My friend understands this totally, he is a self employed carpenter and builder, and a very proud islander. He knows what side the islands bread is buttered on, and he's finding the lack of tourists very worrying, but he's not surprised.

I do like pidgeon pointless, and particularly the Tobago Tourist Prevention Authority.
I had first hand experience of this the last time I visited.
Some Di**head in the airport from them asking questions about our stay which were all absolutely pointless apart from compiling meaningless visitor data so they could churn out a few stats. Not a single question about how you found your stay or in your opinion what would make the island even better, just b**locks like how much did you spend on eating out, did you hire a car, how much was it etc.etc.
They need someone working there who actually has a clue, or there's only one way its going to go.

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Re: Tobago's Delicate Environment

Post by Kelly20 »

Well said, I also posted on THA pages,never replied..

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