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The Trinidad & Tobago Business Guide (TTBG, 2009-10)

serious concern, and

serious concern, and concrete plans to reverse it are urgently needed. There are, of course, a number of factors contributing to such a serious fall-off in business, but the continuing inadequacy of Crown Point Airport (despite much talk of a new terminal), the escalating crime situation, the overall deterioration of the quality of Tobago’s hotels, and restricted airlift, must be seen as the overriding causes. Tobago continues to be the last undiscovered Caribbean hideaway, and may well remain so for the foreseeable future, since the Tobago House of Assembly appears to like it that way. However, the island has all the natural resources necessary to expand and develop its tourism industry, including great natural beauty, a relatively benign climate, and plentiful resort sites and attractions, many of which are now owned by the THA. The political will to foster further development, however, continues to be elusive. rooms will determine the nature and market resonance of Tobago as a destination. Unlike most Caribbean islands, Tobago is still possessed of several disused agricultural estates with beach frontages that are uniquely well suited to become Integrated Resort Developments (IRDs), providing a financial balance between hotel and residential development, and supported by a variety of recreational and commercial activities such as golf courses, tennis complexes, marinas and shopping malls. Unfortunately, the foreign residential ownership essential for such developments is under threat from real estate restrictions imposed by the THA. Originally these were conceived to protect and preserve Tobagonian land ownership, but the limitations have Figure 26 Global arrivals and receipts been extended to include resort development, thus completely undermining the financial viability of such enterprises. One example is the Angostura project on the old Golden Grove Estate, which was conceived to include two hotels, a championship golf course and a broad range of residential offerings. This has now been put on indefinite hold. Expansion of the accommodation sector would not only secure airlift out of existing source markets, but would open up new ones. This is critical: at present Tobago is serviced by BA, Virgin Atlantic and Monarch out of the UK, and once a week by a direct flight out of Atlanta, and is thus is horribly over-dependent on the UK market. Enhanced access to the potentially lucrative US market should be a top priority, but this will only come with Tobago hotel stock Depending on who you talk to, the island presently boasts around 3,500 rooms. Unfortunately, most of these are in the guest house, B&B and private villa categories, with less than 700 real hotel rooms, mostly unbranded. For the most part this is a situation difficult, if not impossible, for international tour operators to work with, and it is these major producers of business that the airlines, at the level of their marketing departments and route development managers, consult to determine airlift viability. As a consequence, Tobago lives on the brink of losing air service, and is obliged to financially guarantee load factors to obtain even a semblance of continuity. It is widely recognised that Tobago needs another 1,500–2,000 internationally branded hotel rooms to establish a commercially critical accommodation mass; and the quality of those Source: United Nations World Tourism Organisation Figure 27 Cruise passenger arrivals to Trinidad & Tobago by nationality (2003-2007) 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 PASSENGERS % SHARE PASSENGERS % SHARE PASSENGERS % SHARE PASSENGERS % SHARE PASSENGERS % SHARE USA 15,314 27.6% 5,207 9.6% 7,325 10.9% 7,181 8.5% 12,513 16.7% UK 19,081 34.4% 32,346 59.6% 54,526 81.1% 64,245 76.4% 42,218 56.2% Canada 4,666 8.4% 1,736 3.2% 1,084 1.6% 3,044 3.6% 3,467 4.6% Germany 12,542 22.6% 10,636 19.6% 2,071 3.1% 7,827 9.3% 12,321 16.4% France 1,015 1.8% 1,857 3.4% 527 0.8% 187 0.2% 161 0.2% Caricom 92 0.2% 76 0.1% 90 0.1% 84 0.1% 48 0.1% Other 2,822 5.1% 2,396 4.4% 1,573 2.3% 1,545 1.8% 4,383 5.8% Total 55,532 100.0% 54,254 100.0% 67,196 100.0% 84,113 100.0% 75,111 100% Source: Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago/Tourism Development Company 56 TTBG 09/10

09/10 TTBG 57

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