Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tobago tourism to become year-round industry

Tracy Davidson-Celestine
Secretary of Tourism
Tobago House of Assembly
Tactical marketing, strategic development and investment stimulation are essential for the sustainable development of Tobago’s tourism industry, says deputy chief secretary and secretary of Tourism and Transportation, Assemblyman Tracy Davidson-Celestine.

In her contribution to the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Budget debate, Davidson-Celestine said there had been a two per cent increase in international arrivals in 2012, three new cruise calls in the 2012-2013 cruise season, and CNN recently listed the Pigeon Point Heritage Park among the world’s 100 best beaches. Emphasising the need for an intensive product development drive, Davidson-Celestine that the Division is committed to improving the island’s room stock, sites and attractions.

She said work has begun to introduce new accommodation options to the island. This will be done through a committee of tourism officials and private sector representatives charged with assessing the feasibility of constructing low cost, high quality accommodations on approved sites, including Englishman’s Bay and Culloden Estate.

Lighting of beaches, the construction of an 18-hole golf course and a Heritage Trail through Scarborough are among other projects identified. Apart from the physical infrastructure, the Division will continue its efforts in the area of customer service training through programmes like the T&T Tourism Industry Certificate (TTTIC). The Division will also introduce an island-wide Hospitality Assured programme that targets the accommodation and restaurant sectors.

“The intent is to offer a different and unique visitor experience that is unmatched and of high value,” Davidson-Celestine said. To deliver on its mandate to increase international tourist arrivals to 40,000 by 2015, the Division will begin exploring new source markets in Latin America, Scandinavia and selected Caribbean nations. It will also continue successful programmes such as the Tobago Travel Specialist Programme and the recently expanded Go Go Go Programme. 

Marketing efforts will be executed in conjunction with transportation initiatives to ensure current airlift and cruise arrangements are maintained, but also to lay a solid foundation to attract new air- and cruise-lines. Other areas identified in Davidson-Celestine’s presentation were implementation of a public awareness campaign, tourism community initiatives and the renewal of Dwight Yorke’s contract as Brand Ambassador for Tobago. 

Noting that tourism is currently responsible for 36.7 per cent of Tobago’s GDP and approximately 14,000 jobs, the Assemblyman called on Central Government to provide the necessary funding for the Division to execute its plans for the next fiscal year. “It is important that they understand that the $381.5 million requested represents a need, not a want,” she said.


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