Posts

Showing posts from December, 2010

The Importance of Travel Agents

Technology is important in today’s travel industry.  Depending on the source market, estimates from the developed world range from 50% to 80% of bookings being made online or at least some element of research being conducted online before the traveler books her trip. 
Technology aside, it is still useful to remember that much of the leisure bookings to the Caribbean are still done by travel agents in North America and Europe.  The southern Caribbean in particular is heavily dependent on the UK market.  We especially benefit from packages sold by Virgin Holidays which is probably the biggest UK tour operator for this part of the Caribbean and it sells most of its Caribbean package holidays through travel agents.
But travel agents themselves are under pressure and they know it.  Traditionally, they ‘owned’ the relationship with customers.  So owners of travel inventory, such as hotels, car hire companies and airlines, knew they had to work with and through travel agents, to ensure that th…

Tourism Outlook for T&T Carnival 2011

Before we talk about 2011, it may be a useful exercise to reflect on 2010.  The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) recently released provisional 2010 numbers.  Focusing on stay-overs as opposed to cruise visitors (my personal bias I must confess), the numbers confirm what most expected.  Yes, 2010 was a rough year but it was also a ‘mixed’ year for Caribbean tourism.  I say mixed because the numbers show that destinations such as Trinidad and Tobago were down 6% (January to March) but Barbados rebounded and was up 3.8% (January to October), St Lucia was up 15.4% (January to October) and that powerhouse called Jamaica was up 4% (January to August) to 1.4 million visitors. 
It comes as no surprise that the biggest growth was of course, seen in the Spanish Caribbean.  From a tourism point of view, it may be best to call 2010 the ‘return of Cancun’ as they surged ahead 16.5% to 1.4million (January to July).  A great comeback story if ever there was one.  Elsewhere in the Spanish Caribbea…

Tourism Outlook for Carnival 2011

Before we talk about 2011, it may be a useful exercise to reflect on 2010.  The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) recently released provisional 2010 numbers.  Focusing on stay-overs as opposed to cruise visitors (my personal bias I must confess), the numbers confirm what most expected.  Yes, 2010 was a rough year but it was also a ‘mixed’ year for Caribbean tourism.  I say mixed because the numbers show that destinations such as Trinidad and Tobago were down 6% (January to March) but Barbados rebounded and was up 3.8% (January to October), St Lucia was up 15.4% (January to October) and that powerhouse called Jamaica was up 4% (January to August) to 1.4 million visitors. 
It comes as no surprise that the biggest growth was of course, seen in the Spanish Caribbean.  From a tourism point of view, it may be best to call 2010 the ‘return of Cancun’ as they surged ahead 16.5% to 1.4million (January to July).  A great comeback story if ever there was one.  Elsewhere in the Spanish Caribb…

“National pride amid bacchanal” - feb 8 2009

“National pride amid bacchanal” Just two weeks to Carnival, and we can feel it in the air. Various corporate sponsors have started putting up banners around Port-of-Spain proper and in St James. These are now an expected part of the Carnival landscape—similar to lights during Christmas time. Banners from our more responsible corporate citizens have thoughtful messages that remind us to have fun, but also to be careful.
In the midst of the bacchanal, it is satisfying to know that there are some bandleaders who see the bigger picture beyond just making money. Adele Bynoe, from St Mary’s Children’s Home in Tacarigua, was telling me that a children’s Carnival band has made 50 costumes available, free of charge, for their children this year. This band is Rosalind Gabriel’s, whose presentation for Children’s Carnival 2009 is National Pride. This gift to St Mary’s Children Home has been going on for about 20 years or so, and this year it is made possible through support from the good folks a…

“Calypso Dreams” - feb 1 2009

“Calypso Dreams” It was a good week for calypso last week. Last Tuesday, there was a screening of the 2004 documentary called Calypso Dreams at the National Library. It was to promote the launch of the DVD. Kudos to Alvin Daniell and the rest of the Calypso Dreams team on this effort. The screening was dedicated to the memory of the Mighty Duke. One of the good things that have come out of the recent loss of the Mighty Duke is a greater consciousness of just how special this art form is. There is Web site to support the documentary http://www.calypsodreams.com On the tent scene, last Thursday was Kalypso Revue at SWWTU Hall, and last Wednesday was the opening of Kaiso House at what was formerly Strand Cinema in Port-of-Spain. At Kaiso House, we bumped into our good friends—Anjen Mc-Lean and Roger Prince. I had not seen them in years, so liming with them was long overdue. It was a reminder that one of the best things about the Carnival season is that it brings us Trinidadians and Tobag…

“Carry on the tradition” - 25 jan 2009

“Carry on the tradition” I read that before he passed on, the Mighty Duke spent his last days in the studio of his Cocorite home, where he penned a calypso called the Dying Art. It apparently tells of the dying calypso culture being replaced by soca music. My old pardner, Marty Raymond, also believes that the culture of Trinidad and Tobago is in transition, and as such, calypso and old mas culture is seeing its sunset. Marty went on to say we are blessed, in that during our lifetime we experienced part of the “old time” Trinidad and Tobago, which so many seem to yearn for again. Marty really got me thinking. Would calypso soon be forgotten? I thought that it would be helpful for me to speak to Aiyegoro Ome about the National Youth Action Committee (NYAC). I met him before, and I remembered just how passionate he was about cultural development and our young people. So last Tuesday after work, I took a walk to 40 Duke Street in Port-of-Spain to chat with Ome, as well as to have a look a…

“Focus on what we have, not what’s missing” - 17 jan 2009

“Focus on what we have, not what’s missing” So Carnival 2009 has now officially been launched. So far, I have not been to any fetes, but from what I have been reading, concerns about belt-tightening leading to small crowds have not yet materialised. My first fete will probably be St Mary’s College fete—Fete With The Saints—on January 31. As always, it is for a worthy cause, as funds raised go towards improvements in the school infrastructure. For tickets, please ring the Past Students’ Union (624-8468), or send e-mail to office@cicpsu.org Well, last Sunday, Sally and I decided that rather than fete, it was a good day for the beach. For a change, instead of a typical visit to Maracas, we decided to drive to Toco. My two sons, Deandre and Kael, were excited by the idea of visiting somewhere different. So we packed some snacks and hit the road. The day started off a bit overcast, but by midday the sun did come out. Our first stop was Salybia. It had been a while since I drove up on that …

“Young Men of Promise and Queen Latifah” - jan 11 2009

“Young Men of Promise and Queen Latifah” Last Sunday, the East Port of Spain Mentorship Project held its New Years luncheon at the Dining Room of Unit Trust Corporation’s Headquarters.  We are grateful to Ruben Mc Sween (who is also one of the project supervisors) and the team at the UTC for allowing us to use its facility.  This project pairs adolescent males from the East Port of Spain district with adult male mentors.  It is led by Fr Clyde Harvey, the parish priest at Rosary Church in P.O.S. and Chairman of the Morris Marshall Foundation.   The Morris Marshall Development Foundation was founded in 1994 to further the work of the late Morris Marshall who had been the Parliamentary Representative for Laventille West.  The motto of the Foundation is from the late Marshall: “It is through education that social change will come to the community” The Foundation believes that it is by giving the youth insights into alternatives to their present circumstances that we can light a fire in th…

“Taking Calypso forward” - 4 jan 2009

“Taking Calypso forward” On New Year’s Day, we went to the usual lime by my uncle and aunt in St Ann’s.  New Year’s Day is my grandmother’s birthday as well as their wedding anniversary.  After a while however, the talk turned to carnival and how expensive fetes and costumes are for 2009.  I suggested that a more conscious carnival diet could consist of a healthy dose of tents.  Nothing wrong with fetes mind you – I am just looking for a little change.  After all, when was the last time we went to a calypso tent?  Some had the view however, that tents could be a bit too ‘political’.  Someone actually suggested that tents are in decline partly because they alienated part of their customer base and partly because of the switch in consumer taste to soca.  I am no calypso tent expert, so I just listened to these points of view.  But I am still going to visit my share of tents this season.  I feel inspired to try something different for carnival.  Rather than consuming my normal diet of ‘a…

“Tipping Point” - 28 dec 2008

“Tipping Point” I was on Facebook sometime and someone’s ‘status’ message said something about enjoying a book called ‘The Tipping Point’.  I smiled when I read that message.  The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference was an amazing book for me.  My friend Stuart Des Vignes recommended it to me some years back.  I was not disappointed – so now, I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to better understand social phenomena.  ‘Tipping Point’, is apparently a sociological term to describe ‘the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point’.  In his book, Malcolm Gladwell argues that ideas, products, messages and behaviors spread like viruses do.  Two key examples he uses are the rise in popularity and sales of Hush Puppies shoes in the mid-1990s and the dramatic drop in the New York Citycrime rate in the late 1990s.  This book helped me understand that there are patterns to social phenomena.  I am not sure I buy Gladwell’s idea of what drives social phen…