A Riot of Colour and Noise

Last week we hosted a couple of coaches from the Dominican Republic
(DR) who were here for the Caribbean Area International Schools Sports
Association (CAISSA) boy’s Basketball and girl’s Soccer tournament.
As I chatted with one of the coaches, I was surprised to learn that in
the DR, carnival type celebrations also took place in the month of
February.   Of course, given the size of the population in DR it
sounds like their celebrations may already be bigger than ours and
this tourism dependent territory is looking at ways to leverage their
festival to attract more visitors.  Have you seen the YouTube clip
circulating of the carnival in Japan
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ij1vaV1N8P8)?  We in Trinidad and
Tobago should not take our carnival for granted.

I have been racking up some frequent flyer miles recently.  So much so
that I think that I now know parts of the American Airlines welcome
video by heart.  What struck me most about it however is that part
where they say – “thank you for choosing to fly with us…we know that
you have a choice when it comes to air travel…we appreciate your
business”.  Yes our carnival is unique and special and wonderful, but
every competing destination is just as convinced as we are.  We need
to raise our game.

A friend of mine put a link on my wall on Facebook.  It was a link to
a blog from someone called Trinimummy entitled “right now I feel
really distressed about the tourism industry”.  Feel free to Google it
but with Trinimummy’s permission, here is her comment –

“Right now I am distressed!  I volunteered to go to TDC to get some
tour information for a friend of mine.  When I go I am given a
brochure from T&TITOA Trinidad & Tobago Incoming Tour Operators
Association. I ask the receptionist if this information is on TDC’s
site?? She says yes but NOT the corporate site use –
www.gotrinidadandtobago.com Needless to say when I go there, I can’t
find what I am looking for since the operators link takes me back to
the HOME PAGE … I must say the lobby of the TDC office looks beautiful
tho! …Silly me decided to then go to the sites in the brochure.  Half
of them were no longer up and the other half well…

SO I decided to go to the association site.
http://ttitoa.com/MembersList.html I feel a little better, the list is
there and the sites there are mostly working… we can do better?!”

This type of online commentary we can ill afford.  Nevertheless,
Trinimummy and the many other stakeholders who were feeling distressed
about the downward spiral of our tourism industry are feeling a little
more hopeful these days.  It is understood that the newly installed
Board of Directors at our Tourism Development Company Ltd (TDC) has
agreed that ‘business as usual’ was not a serious option and are in
the process of restructuring the organization to enable it to face the
challenges that seem to have been getting the better of us.  Chairman
George Stanley Beard is showing just how serious he is about turning
around our industry.  We wish Beard and his team all the best.

To end on a positive note, another link to make it to my Facebook wall
recently was a write up on our carnival in the influential Travel
Weekly trade magazine by one of the journalists who I believe were
hosted by the TDC in 2010.  Joanna Booth wrote –

“Disregard Rio and let there be no mention of New Orleans. Ask any
islander where the real Carnival happens, and they’ll tell you that
it’s right here in one of the Caribbean’s southernmost islands.
There’s nothing quite like being in Port of Spain for this captivating
riot of colour and noise. The country goes into unofficial shutdown
over Carnival, because no one wants to miss the party – and
Trinidadians know better than most how to throw a party.” Federal Tax Singapore

The article goes on to suggest that travel agents – “Sell Trinidad
Carnival to clients who love the Caribbean and love letting their hair
down. It’s the ultimate trophy trip – one for list-makers to tick
off... Whether clients play or watch, it’s an awesome spectacle,
utterly infectious fun, and a definite contender for the ‘Best Show on
Earth’ title.”

My name is Derren Joseph and I love my country.   As always, I end by
saying that despite our challenges, we are so blessed to live in this
beautiful land.  Let us continue to have the audacity of hope in the
future of our beloved country.

Derren is a travel and tourism consultant.  The views and opinions
expressed here are solely the views of the writer and do not
necessarily reflect the views of any company or institution affiliated
with the writer.


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