Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 11th 2016 Contents From Page 4
Highlighting the two destinations that are drawing local
travellers because of the low cost, he said tours to Margarita
are attractive because it is inexpensive. The cost of an adult
package average between $1,800 and $2,300. If the travellers
opt for a more expensive hotel, the price can go as far as
$3,000. St Lucia has also had increased demand due to low
cost; an adult would pay between $2,800 to $3,500.
The decline in T&T s economy is not preventing the average
consumer from spending on leisure, he said. Navarro noted
there are "very few extra seats" on any of the airlines right
now and that the capacity has been utilised by the travelling
public on a consistent basis.
Sifting and sorting through packages and deals is not unusual
when a customer is going through the decision-making process.
Asked whether eventualities such terror attacks in Europe
and Britain voting to leave the European Union have resulted
in declining demand for certain destinations, the travel executive
said: "I don t think the Brexit vote had a great deal of effect
on travel, more so for the future. T&T nationals are still
enjoying the waiver of the visa for Europe. Isis, on the other
hand, all that has weighed heavy on people s minds and some
have opted not to go to the Far East. They have made it clear
in their conversations."
Generally, the traveller today has done more research before
approaching the agency requesting a destination, he said.
Amral's Travel Agency
Patricia Dillon, general manager of Amral s, said Punta Cana
in the Dominican Republic is one of the destinations which
is popular for her agency. If the traveller has opted for a
package, it would comprise: hotel accommodation, airfare,
transfers, tours and guides at a cost of $2,999 for a family
booking 10 or more people. If, however, it is a family of less
than 10 members the price increases to $3,999 per person.
"People are looking at prices. I won t say there is a recession
but travel has dropped a little this year. People are being a
little more cautious in the places that they go. They look at
the problems we have with Zika virus."
Not daunted by the precautions taken by travellers due to
factors in the market, she said her agency has found ways to
attract customers. "We have adjusted our rates and packages
to take care of that."
Dillon said trend analysis is showing that spending has
slowed by the average traveller approaching her agency to do
business. Stating that consumers have become more concerned
about the state of the economy, Dillon said the media has a
role to play when it comes to travellers making a decision to
travel to a destination.
"With Europe, we find there is still traffic there but not
how it used to be previously. In some cases, you have to go
to Barbados to connect to London. We no longer have direct
flights out of T&T."
Asked whether she can give an estimate of how much travel
has declined, she said: "We have not been able to define that
yet. We have just finished the month of July and people are
still booking. I would not be able to put a percentage on that."
Asked what type of demand she has seen in bookings to
parts of North America for their Carnival celebrations, she
said: "There has been a little increase." Carnival has also been
a factor which contributes to stimulating demand for a des-
tination, as her agency experienced an uptick in numbers
going to Toronto for Carnival.
Adding that there is concern about Isis and travellers have
been cautious about travelling. "The acts of terrorism around
the world have definitely hurt travel a little and people are
looking at those destinations where they have those attacks."
Having good service has resulted in repeat business by its
customers and it also enabled the agency to remain competitive.
Demand for travel is still ongoing despite a recession in T&T s
economy, she said because the airports are still crowded.
Caribbean Airlines Ltd
Under its wing Caribbean Airlines (CAL) has 18 destinations
it travels to, and the July/August period is usually busy period
for the airline with destinations such as Orlando, Fort Laud-
erdale, Miami, Toronto, New York, Kingston, St Maarten, Bar-
bados, Guyana, Suriname and the Bahamas as the most popular.
In a statement, CAL said trends are showing that its customer
base is travelling to both traditional and non-traditional des-
tinations while other travellers are doing multi-destination
"With Caribbean Airlines, our customers appreciate the
facts that: all passengers first bag is free on all flights, one
of the lowest second bag fees in the global aviation industry
(US$30), free seats including preferred seating and compli-
mentary authentic Caribbean meals and signature cocktails."
Competing based on having fares that are either in tandem
with other destinations or lower than other destinations, the
airline said it offers superior value to its customers, "specifically
the all-inclusive, in-flight experience." CAL partners with
other establishments such as hotels, restaurants and spas for
its campaign called "Happiest Ultimate Moment" with the
company offering discounts to its customers.
Asked whether the decline in economies internationally has
resulted in a fall in the numbers travelling, CAL said it served
a number of markets and that the same factors that led to a
decline in the T&T economy---such as falling oil prices---tend
to boost the economies in other markets such as Jamaica and
"Caribbean Airlines recognises that less disposable income
and a potentially lower GDP may hurt air travel growth. There
are examples of this in several larger, more advanced economies
like Canada and the USA. This is why it is critical for Caribbean
Airlines and other key stakeholders to work closely to build
a hub at the Piarco International Airport so we can bring trav-
ellers of all kinds including business travellers into Port-of-
Spain and let them easily connect elsewhere in our network
In order to cope with high demand for July/August period,
Jet Blue has added a second daily flight to New York. The
airline in emailed responses said, in addition to that second
flight, it still has its regularly scheduled daily service to both
New York and Fort Lauderdale.
"Most customers end their journeys in New York or Fort
Lauderdale, but some connect onwards to a number of JetBlue
destinations including Washington DC, Boston, and Los Ange-
les. JetBlue s second daily JFK flight operates July 13 to August
Overall, demand for travel from the US has remained "strong."
Referring to trends in travel to the Caribbean, the airline stated
that the Caribbean as a destination for Americans continues
to be a "wonderful region with diverse vacation options.
"We continue to see similar trends from past years, with
a robust demand for travel to Port-of-Spain during Carnival
season, the summer season and during the holidays. While
JetBlue s New York to Port-of-Spain service offers convenient
schedules for those Trinidadians and leisure travels located
throughout the northeast US, the Ft Lauderdale route offers
an equally-convenient schedule for travellers who live in South
Florida, as well as great connection opportunities for travelers
located in the many cities we serve from Ft Lauderdale."
What is clear for the airline is that even though New York
and Fort Lauderdale is in high demand, destination T&T
remains a number destination to promote.
Staycation or stay-at-home vacation
Chief executive, Chancellor Hotel and Conference Centre,
Lisa Shandilya said for the period between March and August
2016, her establishment has experienced a decline in business
travel. Regarding hotel occupancy she has noticed trends of
"sporadic leisure interests, not more than three night stays,
mostly diaspora. A few transient travellers who may have stop
overs in T&T."
Stating that the decline being experienced in international
economies would affect travel, she said, when it comes to
T&T, "it presents a unique position for transient travel to
South America and therefore this business is welcomed. Also
there is the diaspora, having to close off unfinished business
back home, visit family weddings and events. Companies that
once had many sales representatives coming into T&T are
closing down certain departments. The business market has
Calling for a tourism framework and policy to be put in
place, Shandilya said the success of a destination is measured
by statistics of arrivals, statistics of revenue earned and many
"The way you gauge a destination s market success is through
information arrivals and receipts. If we can project an arrival
rate housed in at least 75 per cent of room stock on both
islands and a healthy foreign exchange input to the banking
sector from the tourism industry then yes the country is mar-
"The statistics without interpretation to the public of the
health of the industry does not suffice and that is what we
often hear from officials when they are giving a speech. I
would therefore say we are no where close to be an effectively
For Shandilya, the impact of Isis and Britain leaving the EU
has not yet impacted her business.
"This is to early to deduce especially as Brexit is still ironing
out issues. As for ISIS, and the fact that it is publicised that
we have so many Trinidadians involved, this can be a deter-
minant in the near future. Are we waiting like sitting ducks
for an attack to occur or, are we all taking an interest in
ensuring that we report any strange activity of persons coming
into our hotels, via our ports? We do have some semblance
of security so this has not affected arrivals to date."
AUGUST 11 • 2016 www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COVER STORY | BG5
'Staycations' on the rise
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