Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 27th 2014 Contents BG6 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt FEBRUARY 2014 • WEEK FOUR
Outsiders still think T&T is a
part of Jamaica and the
country is hardly promoted
in places that count.T&T
has had three Ministers of
Tourism since 2010 and four
chairpersons of the Tourism Development
Visitors to T&T for Carnival 2014 are staying
five nights during the peak occupancy period
instead of the seven-night stay of years past.
These are the views of Louanna Chai-Alves,
executive director, Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants
and Tourism Association.
"Carnival for the hotel industry is a five-
day span and typically starts on Carnival Friday
and many guests check out on Ash Wednesday.
That period is what we call the peak for Car-
nival, which is just five days. Those days are
sold out for hotels in downtown Port-of-
Spain, for the bed and breakfast to the large
hotels. In past years, hotels started to full as
early as the Wednesday before Carnival so the
period was, in fact, seven nights long. But we
have seen that this time has shortened. We
are now seeing an average stay of three to five
nights," she told the Business Guardian on
Monday at the Hilton Trinidad Hotel and Con-
ference Centre, St Ann's.
Chai-Alves is not sure what is responsible
for visitors shortening their hotel stay for Car-
"As an association, it is our desire to extend
that time, but there are a number of factors
that must come into play to achieve that. We
think it could be the economic downturn, we
do not know if it is the crime. We do not know
what has caused people to shorten their time,"
She noted visitors made earlier bookings
"A number of hotels have reported that this
year, things came in earlier, so there have been
earlier bookings, so by the end of 2013, the
rooms were almost sold out. For the past few
years, the bookings were closer to Carnival.
About seven years ago, rooms for Carnival
were sold out by August of the previous year,"
Lorraine Pouchet, marketing director, In Joy
Tours and president of the T&T Incoming
Tours Operators Association, told the Business
Guardian on Monday that business has been
slow for her tour guiding business.
"Most of us in this business may get some
requests for transportation services to move
people to a fete or to pick them up. As far as
the tour component is, they may want a tour
to the Asa Wright Nature Centre, the Caroni
Bird Sanctuary or wherever. These activities
have not been that much over the years," she
Pouchet said the majority of visitors to T&T
are those who come every year.
"I want to know how many are new to this
destination as there is no marketing or pro-
motion of our destination outside. What you
have are people coming back already sold on
Carnival and people who have been coming
over the years, and who have met Trinidadians
abroad and were told about Carnival," she said.
Pouchet said business for tour operators has
become "less and less" over the years.
"In years gone by, if a group calls us and
asks us to manage their stay here, we would
do everything for them, like put them in a
hotel, take them to the fetes and do sightseeing
tours. But that is not happening now as the
people coming are not new to the destination
and know their way around," she said.
She gave an idea of the cost of In Joy's serv-
"The cost vary from US$30 to US$150. This
depends on whether it is land-based tours, a
tour with lunch included, a tour with one per-
son or a group," she said.
Pouchet believes business this year is worse
than last year.
"Last year, I had groups from Martinique
and some of the other islands and this year
I am not seeing that because once they come
a first time, they do not need you if they
return. We have been calling on the Govern-
ment to attract new visitors over and over
again. They need to do proper destination
branding of T&T," she said.
Chai-Alves wants more to be done to attract
people a few weeks before Carnival to stay at
the hotels and enjoy the early Carnival activ-
ities, adding there is much more to offer than
the parade of bands on Monday and Tues-
During the Carnival peak, about 1,200 hotel
rooms in Port-of-Spain and environs are filled.
"Our desire is not only to lengthen the Car-
nival period, but to shift some of the focus
away from Carnival to the three weeks before
Carnival. Get people into Trinidad to experience
the fetes, the steelbands, the shows. We need
to package tours around events. Event dates
must be marked long in advance so tickets
can be purchased long in advance. There must
be a fixed calendar of events that we can mar-
ket long in advance," she said.
She referred to the Beyonce concert in
Trinidad after Carnival in 2010, saying many
visitors extended their stay to attend the show.
"That year it helped extend the hotel stay
to a couple nights beyond Ash Wednesday.
We saw people check out the Friday after Car-
nival," she said.
She said tourists who come to T&T love
the beaches and the night life that T&T offers,
in addition to Carnival events.
"Maracas is a beautiful beach, one of the
Caribbean's best. The tourists love the excite-
ment and fetes of Carnival. They are carried
away by the island's night life. But the country
needs to promote the country so the world
knows about this great product."
The members of this association represent
1,800 of the 2,400 rooms in Trinidad and
Continued on Page 7
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