Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 23rd 2016 Contents tobagotoday.co.tt November 23 - 2016
Hotel occupancy rate at 50 per cent
The issue of the accuracy of
statistics related to Tobago's tour-
ism industry has once again
reared its head.
At the recently concluded
Finance and Enterprise Division's
annual Economic and Business
Conference, tourism industry
stakeholders indicated that occu-
pancy rate was 17 per cent.
However, at least week's
post-Executive Council media
briefing, Secretary of Tourism and
Transportation Tracy David-
son-Celestine said statistics from
her division showed the rate was
50 per cent as of August this year.
"I just want to say that the divi-
sion, along with hotels, give the
occupancy rate. There is a system
used for filling out application
forms ... and doing exit surveys,"
the Secretary said.
She noted that the division was
finalising statistics for September
and October and will make them
available to the public soon.
Saying the level of occupancy
of some establishments had a
direct relationship to the state of
their properties, she highlighted
the view of people who are in touch
with customers staying at differ-
"Tour operators have said they
have not seen any major proper-
ty upgrades for the last 20 years,"
she told reporters.
She urged industry stakeholders
to make use of the Tourism Devel-
opment Company's fiscal facility
to upgrade their properties.
"If you want to be in the busi-
ness of tourism you have to con-
tinue to upgrade, innovate and
create in order for persons to con-
tinuously come to your destination
and get value for money," David-
She added: "The challenge is
that the tourism stakeholders
should work hand in hand with
the division to come up with a
plan that says you need to go and
ensure you sell your market, you
sell your property."
Speaking further on some of the
challenges facing the industry, she
said the inability of some busi-
nesses to take advantage of the
division's marketing activity
was related to their lack of online
"Those businesses who work
with the dynamism of the THA
are walking away with an occu-
pancy rate of 95-98 per cent but
those who don't have significant
son said the issue of low occu-
pancy rate was not due to a lack
of airlift as stated by some tourism
stakeholders, as the THA is plan-
ning on increasing capacity in that
area. She cited the two new flights
from Munich, Germany and Man-
chester, United Kingdom, as evi-
dence of this.
She said Caribbean Airlines also
has a role to play in increasing
airlift and reminded the recently
installed board of its new mandate
from Prime Minister Dr Keith
Rowley to improve the domestic
air-bridge and connecting flights
from international destinations.
She said the airline's role was cru-
cial to the development of Toba-
"If you look at airlines that are
funded by the state across the
Caribbean ... you will observe that
one of their major objectives is to
drive traffic throughout the Carib-
bean countries in a particular way,"
THA creates stir with varying figures
Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary of Tourism and Transportation Tracy Davidson-Celestine chats with members of the media during the World Tourism
Market in the UK last week. Davidson-Celestine led a delegation of four to the event, one of the largest travel trade shows in the industry, as it is seen
as important to the growth of yearly visitor arrivals to the island.
Collaboration key if industry is to survive, stakeholder
"Lock up a think-tank of private
and public sector personnel in a
room and do not let them out until
they come up with a solution to
deal with the crisis in the tourism
That's the call being made by
Kaye Trotman, president of the
Tobago Unique Bed and Breakfast
and Self Catering Association.
She was responding to a question
from Tobago Today on whether this
year's annual Tobago Economic and
Business Outlook Conference, host-
ed by the Finance and Enterprise
Division, had solved the growing
crisis facing Tobago's tourism
"It was talk shop generally and
did not come up with any solutions
and merely repeated problems we
have experienced in the industry
over the years," she said.
"Right now the industry is
beyond crisis and something has
pool of people from both sectors
-- private and public -- to develop
a mechanism going forward."
Hastening to add that the con-
ference was "of some worth as it
allowed successful entrepreneurs
to tell their story," she noted that
"the structured approach did not
allow the level of freedom required
to find solutions for the tourism
She acknowledged, however, that
the forum was held for all busi-
nesses in Tobago and not just the
"I know other businesses need-
ed to have their time but tourism
is important to Tobago and for far
too long the industry has been
declining and little has been done
about it," Trotman told Tobago
She suggested that the time had
come for a Tourism Development
Bank, as most of the businesses in
the tourism sector are still in the
"embryonic" stage even after oper-
ating in the sector for a number of
"Many businesses are not as yet
at the commercialised stage where
they can go to a commercial bank.
Instead, what they need is a devel-
opment institution they can grow
The Bed and Breakfast Associa-
tion president said, however, that
she is not suggesting the bank is
structured around the Agricultural
Development Bank model, as that
idea had failed.
"Instead, what we should do is
learn what made ADB fail and learn
from their mistakes," she said.
Trotman also said culture was a
major part of why Tobagonians were
not going to commercial banks for
loans to finance their businesses.
"You know Tobagonians do not
want people in their business too
much and would prefer advice.
Besides, many cannot access loans
as they do not have title to their
Asked about the immediate
future of the tourism industry,
Trotman said urgent action had to
be taken by the private and public
"No one sector can do it and
unless we can cross that divide and
work together to come up with a
solution, many businesses will fail,"
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