Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 25th 2016 Contents BG6 NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt FEBRUARY 25 • 2016
And so another Carnival season
has ended. Gone are the fanfare,
merriment and chaos that are
part of the festivities associated
with the season. Given all that
has been said about the local economic envi-
ronment it would appear that Carnival is
immune, or in some ways insulated, from the
spillover effects of a contracting economy, the
Zika virus and the country's high murder rate.
Locals and foreigners alike just love the
season too much. The Business Guardian
reached out to some of the players in the local
hospitality industry to get a sense of the evo-
lution of the Carnival product, tourist activity
during the season and what can be done, if
anything, to make the "Greatest Show on
Earth" more than just a two-day festival.
Usually a delicate issue, most hotels were
unwilling to divulge any specific numbers
regarding their occupancy rates. However, all
indicated that there was no decline from last
year. Lisa Shandilya, general manager at The
Chancellor Hotel, and an outspoken advocate
for the development of the country's tourism
product, said: "Hoteliers are able to forecast
bookings at least six to eight months prior to
the Carnival season. Our hotel had one hundred
per cent occupancy for Carnival 2016."
Also stating that its occupancy was
unchanged from the previous year was Annette
de Verteuil, general manager at the Coblentz
Inn and Neemah Persad-Celestine, marketing
and communications manager at the Hyatt
The evolving tourist
One of the natural associations with the
Carnival season is the influx of tourists who
arrive to witness the event.
Commenting on where most tourist come
from Shandilya said: "Most come from the
US, specifically from states like New York,
New Jersey and Washington DC. Most are
from the diaspora. This year however, we had
40 per cent visitation from Australia and the
United Kingdom, first time to Carnival in the
Similar to Shandilya, de Verteuil noted that
most visitors come from the US as well. This
year though, she observed that there was
greater visitation from Martinique.
At the Hyatt, Persad-Celestine said: "Most
of our visitors come from the United States
and the Caribbean."
Another point of interest was the duration
of visitors for the event with Shandilya pointing
out that tourists have not been staying as long
as they did in the past.
"The period of stay has dwindled to five to
seven nights as compared to the previous
years," said Shandilya. At the Hyatt, Persad-
Celestine indicated the same duration, indi-
cating that most visitors stay for seven days.
Commenting on the Coblentz Inn, de Verteuil
said that most guests stayed for six days during
There have also been visible changes in the
pattern of behaviour of visitors over the last
Shandilya summarised her observations as
follows: "The changes have been more with
the demand for Carnival fetes and mas which
have been pre-arranged and within budget.
There is no special interest in purchasing local
food or sweets, souvenirs, and/or cultural
activities such as tents, shows put on by the
NCC (National Carnival Committee) or heritage
"For those wanting food, they have a pre-
conceived price value of under US$10."
At the Coblentz Inn de Verteuil has observed
more advanced planning by visitors over the
years. She said: "Guests have organised for
the parties and costumes before arrival."
Noting a consistency in the pattern of visitors
to the Hyatt, Persad-Celestine said: "The
trends for us continue to be similar (to years
Spending by tourists
One of the particular areas of interest during
the Carnival season is the expected uptick in
foreign exchange entering the local economy.
Given all that has been taking place with
foreign exchange supply in T&T, the Carnival
season usually presents an opportunity to ease
some of the tightness in the foreign exchange
On this issue de Verteuil said: "Payments
are normally made by credit cards---very little
foreign exchange is converted at the hotel."
Shandilya added: "Their (tourist) spend is
in TT dollars or credit cards. Visitors would
also get their money exchanged at the local
financial institutions as well as through friends."
At the Hyatt however, Persad-Celestine
observed that most visitors use US dollars.
Towards a better
Given the direct impact that the Carnival
season has on the hotel business, all hoteliers
are of the belief that more can be done to
improve the quality and consistency of the
local Carnival product.
De Verteuil was quick to point out that
greater promotional activities need to be done
to increase the scope of Carnival in the eyes
She said: "Increased promotion of the pre-
Carnival activities such as the King and Queen
competition is needed."
De Verteuil said: "Our immigration at the
airport needs to be more welcoming and effi-
cient to process the arrivals quicker. We also
need to increase the efficiency of our public
transportation system as guests find taxi fares
"I hope that the various departments
involved in Carnival will work together to make
it more than a two-day event and try to get
visitors to explore our country."
Shandilya went further commenting that
the overall scale of the event needs serious
"First and foremost, Carnival is not evolving
into a sustainable event where people are
attracted to all the elements of Carnival. There
is a pre Carnival that has not been tapped into
for visitation. There are so many events, before
Carnival, that are happening in silos that even
hoteliers aren't aware of to share this infor-
"I am sure NCC is realising the fall in atten-
dance and should rethink how to develop this
product to another level. After Carnival, which
is into the Lenten season, can also be a big
sell to markets."
Shandilya also weighed in on the role of
other stakeholders in improving the Carnival
"TDC (Tourism Development Company)
has its part to start promoting Carnival to dif-
ferent niche markets; to highlight the splendour
of Carnival to attract new markets. NCC should
implement ticket online sales months before
to stimulate the sales prior to Carnival."
Hoteliers report no drop
off in Carnival visitors
Links Archive February 24th 2016 February 26th 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page