| Families enjoy a sea bath at Mt Irvine Bay in Tobago. |
Photo courtesy Oswin Browne.
More Trinidadians are choosing Tobago as their holiday destination, with more than half a million Trinidadians spending over $117 million on a record number of visits to Tobago in 2013.
Data from tourism associations, flights and ferries in and out of the island indicate that more Trinidadians are travelling to Tobago for quick breaks and one to three-day retreats.
One such traveller, Andrew Seepersad from San Fernando, picks Tobago every time he needs a break. "It's quick, easy, and a great place to breathe some fresh air and chill out," he says. "I'm here for three days to just relax after a hectic few weeks, and Tobago is near enough and easy enough to make these mini-holidays practical, even at the last minute, so I come here a few times every year."
Some repeat visitors stay for longer; the George family of Palo Seco has been travelling to Tobago at least twice a year since 2005, and all eight of them love it. "Tobago is our second home. The first time we came we fell in love with the island, and since then we've been back twice a year and each time with friends," they said.
Assemblyman Tracy Davidson-Celestine, the Secretary of Tourism and Transportation, said "Even as we dedicate time and resources to promoting Tobago internationally, we always keep an eye on our domestic market, as we know how valuable domestic tourism is for the economy. Domestic tourism helps non-traditional accommodation particularly and, with the new ferry 'Galicia', we are expecting reduced costs for goods and services which will help make Tobago an even more attractive option for domestic tourists."
Holidaying in Tobago by Trinidadians has become a favourite pastime thanks in part to the increased airlift and ferry travel during peak seasons in April, July and December, and during popular festivals such as the Tobago Jazz Experience, Tobago Heritage Festival and the Blue Food Festival. The Division also ran a marketing campaign in Trinidad to promote events such as "Tobago Day at the Races," a preview of the annual goat races at Buccoo and Mount Pleasant; and the "Got To Go Tobago Roadshow," giving Trinidadians a snippet of Tobagonian music, culture and food.
Domestic travellers to Tobago increased by 3 per cent in 2013, with 50,000 more arrivals than 2012, making it the highest number for the past six years. In 2012, 57 per cent of Trinidadians came to the island on the ferry and 43 per cent travelled by air, whereas in 2013, 53 per cent flew and 47 per cent came by ferry.