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Showing posts from February, 2011

A Letter to Tourism Students

Well I know we are in the throws of the bacchanal season “when men lose their reason; and most of us just want to wine and have a good time, because we feeling fine" (thank you King David)!  Within the last few months, I have received quite a few emails from students of travel and tourism related courses at UWI and SITAL.  They point to issues which may be of interest to other students – even those who are not pursuing a career in the travel and tourism sector.
Let me first say, I would never pretend to be an expert in the travel and tourism industry.  Rather, 14 years into it, I am still a devoted student of the industry.  Hardly a day passes when I do not learn something new.  It is an industry where almost any socio-economic-political-meterological event can impact on your company’s or country’s performance.  Yes it is a very challenging and exciting sector.  For those looking to enter the sector, five things I would point out.
Firstly, Trinidad’s industry is perhaps still re…

It's Carnival Time Again

A couple weeks ago, I was on a flight to Mexico City and as usual, I ended up chatting with the person next to me.  An Accountant with PWC in Mexico City, he was a young football fanatic.  When I told him I was from Trinidad, the first thing he said was – “Oh!  That’s where Jack Warner is from”.  I smiled as he explained that he was always curious as to how such a small nation like ours, could produce a man who is so powerful in the Concacaf region. 
When it came time to fill out the customs and immigration forms, he borrowed my pen.  It was a Tourism Development Company (TDC) pen, with the TDC logo and the tag line – ‘The True Caribbean’.  That is when the conversation switched from football to tourism.  My new friend began reminiscing about a cruise around the Southern Caribbean he had done with his family.  I was proud that he had visited our region as I thought that he is exactly the type of higher-end tourist that our region wants to attract.  Unfortunately however, he confessed…

Tourism Needs to Listen to the People

One thing about travel and tourism marketing is that there is absolutely nowhere to hide.   Anyone and everyone can judge success or failure at a glance.  From a Caribbean tourism point of view, the Guardian carried this headline a couple weeks ago - "Caribbean touts tourism surge not seen since ’08”.  The article went on to say that the Caribbean is attracting tourists in numbers not seen since the start of the global economic crisis, with several islands boasting new records.  More than 23 million tourists visited the region in 2010, a nearly 5 per cent increase from the 22.1 million that visited the previous year, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO).  The tiny eastern Caribbean islands of Anguilla and St Lucia drew hordes of tourists from Canada and the US and posted double-digit increases.  
The wider Caribbean and Central American region shows a variety of destinations outperforming Trinidad and Tobago.  Such destinations include one that faced severe and …

Tourism Will Rise

Many tourism stakeholders here in Trinidad and Tobago have a pessimistic outlook.  Is it that stakeholders have good reason to be frustrated?  Firstly, last September the business section of another newspaper clearly demonstrated that starting from 1995, visitor arrivals to Trinidad and Tobago showed an upward trend, peaked in 2005 and since then, have been in decline.  With these numbers, we immediately dismiss one myth.  Our tourism decline predates the current global economic turmoil. The cause of the decline in our arrivals is not simply due to external forces.  Local tourism decision makers are at least partly to blame.
Secondly, last December, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) 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.  While Trinidad and Tobago showed a downward trend, Barbados rebounded and was up 3.8% (January to October), St Lucia was up 15.4% (Jan…