Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 18th 2018 Contents Sunday, February 18, 2018
Entertainment in a tight economy:
Are citizens spending?
In the middle of a recession, do
people spend less money or
more on entertainment?
Logic dictates that money for
entertainment comes from one's
disposable income and so if people
have smaller salaries - or none at all
- there would be less to spend on a
movie or taking a drink at a bar or
going out to eat.
On the other hand, many view
spending on entertainment as a
necessary expense, reasoning that
it removes some of the stress asso-
ciated with the current economic
Of course spending less means,
less national consumption and so
can have a negative effect on the
economy as businesses who pro-
vide services are affected.
While T&T nationals are well
known for eating, drinking and
partying in and out of the Carinval
season, Sunday Business spoke to
some of the owners of large enter-
tainment centres in the country to
see how people's spending habits
have been affected by the present
downturn in the economy.
John Aboud, Chairman, Five Is-
land Amusement Park, told Sunday
Business that the park is still new to
the country as it has been around
for a mere six months, and despite
the tight economy, patronage was
"There is a high interest from
the public to visit the Amusement
Park, as it offers people of T&T a
world class amusement park ex-
perience, similar to the popular
themed parks in the US and around
the world, without having to spend
a large sum to travel abroad. The
attendance thus far has achieved
our projections and the company's
marketing program is still being im-
plemented to attract citizens from
all parts of T&T to come and enjoy
the experience." Aboud said
The park offerings include ice
skating, go kart racing, a trampo-
line jump zone, an obstacle ropes
course, and a toddler play park.
Despite the economic environ-
ment, Aboud said they expect busi-
ness to continue growing.
"We expect our business to grow
as we continue to reach out to more
local communities, groups and cor-
porate T&T to come and experience
hurt cinema business
Derek Chin, owner of Movie-
Towne told Sunday Business that
there has been a drop in the num-
ber of people patronising his popu-
He said there has been a reduc-
tion of people coming to Movie-
Towne over the last year of roughly
10 to 15 per cent.
"It is because of the economy,
people losing their jobs, the reces-
sion, the crime. Also other factors
like the foreign exchange which has
affected the normality in terms of
how we did business before, it is
now much more dif icult. So if we
were going to open a second or
third restaurant that has been put
on hold" he said.
He also said that there are less
visitors coming to T&T and this has
also impacted his business.
"The Government talks about
more tourists but there are some
things they do that go against that.
Look at Ariapita Avenue, the wreck-
ing service, the lack of proper se-
curity. They are saying they want
more tourists but they aren't mak-
ing it more friendly for tourists.
There are also problems at the air-
port and immigration issues."
Chin also added that the trend in
online movie streaming from new
providers like Netflix and others
which has hurt the traditional cin-
ema business around the world and
that T&T was no different.
"I don't have the numbers for
that but there has been a drop of
in terms of patronage as people
have decided due to the economy
they have less money to spend. So
instead of coming four times for
the month they come two times.
We have been employing different
marketing strategies to get people
to bring their families out and two-
Chin, who also owns restaurant
franchises like Texas de Brazil,
Ruby Tuesday and Rizzoni's said
that they too have experienced a
decline in customers.
"There has been more than a 15
per cent drop from 2016 and 2017
to now. People have less money to
spend at restaurants than before.
Waiters have been getting less tips
too." he said.
However he noted that for special
days like Valentine's Day or Moth-
er's Day, people tend to dig deeper
and are willing to spend to eat out.
He said his companies have had
to come up with creative ways
to stay in business through such
things as offering family specials
and other discounts.
He added that they have high
overhead costs and this affected
them, apart from a decline in peo-
He said that apart from the eco-
nomic contraction and the resulting
decline in people dining out, there
is a high cost of doing business in
the restaurant industry.
"Employees do not want to come
to work, they do not show up on
time. Problems with labour is a big
issue," he said.
He concluded on a pessimistic
note saying that the economic situ-
ation will not improve.
"No, things will not get better.
There's nothing being done crea-
tively or dynamically. No new ideas
as we're still stirring the old pot,"
Harrypersad Ragoonanan, owner
of Harry's Water Park situated in
Rio Claro told Sunday Business
that the recently concluded carni-
val season, which usually provides
a boost to the business from those
not partaking in the annual fes-
tivities, was the worst in 12 years
since the entertainment park was
"It was a really slow period. It has
been a very, very bad turnout. We
have been seeing business falling
for the last three carnival seasons.
But this last carnival weekend was
Some of the activities they offer
include overnight stays at cabins,
guest rooms, food courts, a bar,
kayaking, a pool area and wildlife
and nature trail.
Ragoonanan attributed the fall in
people visiting the park to the bad
"It is the recession, people
are unemployed and don't have
money. Everyday people are going
home. We have in total 45 to 60 em-
ployees at our park."
According to Ragoonanan, oper-
ating in the current environment
meant confronting some harsh re-
alities of business.
"We have bills to pay, we have
workers to pay. It is really hard," he
Despite the preveailing circum-
stances, Ragoonanan said he re-
mains optimistic about the future.
"I am always praying, I pray
for the Government, I pray for
everyone in the country. We need
everyone to participate to make
a business successful. Recreation
is done by people after they've
bought groceries, paid their bills
and only when they have additional
cash then they carry out recrea-
Five Islands Amusement Park.
PICTURE NICOLE DRAYTON Harry's Water Park.
PICTURE COURTESY HARRY'S WATER PARK
hot topic SB3
MovieTowne Cineplex in San Fernando
PICTURE TONY HOWELL
Links Archive February 17th 2018 February 19th 2018 Navigation Previous Page Next Page