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Tourism on Tobago is concentrated in the southwest of the island, around Crown Point, Store Bay, Pigeon Point and Buccoo Reef. This area has large expanses of sand and is dominated by resort type developments. Tobago has many idyllic beaches around its coastline, especially those at Castara, Bloody Bay, and Englishman's Bay.
Tobago is linked to the world through the Crown Point International Airport and the Scarborough harbour. Domestic flights connect Tobago with Trinidad, and international flights connect with the Caribbean and Europe. There is also a daily fast ferry service between Port of Spain and Scarborough.
Coral reefs have been damaged recently by silt and mud runoff during construction of a road along the north east coast. There has also been damage to the reef in Charlotteville village caused by sealing the road at Flagstaff Hill and diverting more silty water down the stream from Flagstaff down to Charlotteville.
Tobago is also a popular diving location, since it is the most southerly of the Caribbean island with coral communities. Trinidad, which is further south, has no significant coral because of low salinity and high silt content which result from its position close in the mouth of Venezuela's River Orinoco. Scuba diving tends to be centred at Speyside, almost diametrically across the island from the airport.
The island has some of the best diving sites in the Caribbean. There are three wrecks located around its shores, but the one usually considered the best is the Maverick Ferry, which used to travel between Trinidad and Tobago. The ferry is 350 feet long and has been sunk in 30 metres/100 feet just off Rocky Point, Mt. Irvine. The top of the wreck is at 15 metres/50 feet. The wreck has an abundance of marine life, including a 4 foot jewfish, a member of the grouper family. The wreck was purposely sunk for divers, and so all the doors and windows were removed.
The waters around the island are home to many species of tropical fish, rays, sharks, and turtles.
The Tobago Forest Reserve (or the Main Ridge Reserve) claims to be the oldest protected forests in the Western world. It was designated as a protected Crown reserve on April 17, 1776 following representations by Soame Jenyns a Member of Parliament in Britain who had the responsibility for the development of Tobago. It has remained a protected area ever since.
This forested area has great biodiversity including many species of birds, mammals, frog and (nonpoisonous) snakes. It is one of the most approachable areas of rainforest, since it is relatively small and there are government-appointed guides who provide an authoritative guiding service through the forest at a reasonable cost. The guides are knowledgeable about the plants and the animals, and can call down rare and exotic birds from the canopy by imitating their calls.
Little Tobago, the small neighbouring island, supports some of the best remaining dry forest this and St. Giles Island are important seabird nesting colonies, with Red-billed Tropicbird, Magnificent Frigatebird and Audubon's Shearwater amongst others.
Local Government functions are handled by the House of Assembly. The current Chief Secretary of the THA is Orville London. The People's National Movement controls 11 seats in the Assembly, while the Democratic Action Congress controls the other seat. The DAC has been the traditional party of Tobagonian autonomy, while some islanders have even supported full independence from Trinidad.
Although Tobago lies to the south of the hurricane belt, it was nevertheless struck by Hurricane Flora on September 30, 1963. The effects of the hurricane were so severe that they changed the face of Tobago's economy. The hurricane laid waste to the plantations of banana, coconut, and cacao, which largely sustained the economy. It wreaked considerable damage to the largely pristine tropical rainforest that makes up a large proportion of the interior of the northern half of the island. Subsequently, many of the plantations were abandoned, and the economy changed direction away from cash crop agriculture toward tourism. In 2004 Hurricane Ivan, although less severe than Flora, did cause significant damage.
birdwatching accommodation tobago