Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 27th 2014 Contents BG10 NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt MARCH 2014 • WEEK FOUR
Although some major hotels
reported full or near-to-full
hotel occupancy rates during
the Carnival period, Louanna
Chai-Alves, executive direc-
tor of the Trinidad Hotels,
Restaurants and Tourism Association, said the
Government still has to solve the problem of
attracting more tourists to the country.
"The crescendo of discontent from tourism
stakeholders is not only predictable, it is thor-
oughly justified. Despite widespread calls for
an increased role for tourism in a diversified
national economy, the sector continues to get
little better than benign neglect from the Peo-
ple's Partnership Government, which, of
course, is not much different from that which
it received previously under the PNM," she
told the Business Guardian last week Thursday
via e-mail in an association's statement.
She added there was a "ray of hope" when
Stephen Cadiz was tourism minister, but this
changed when he left the ministry.
"Actually, for a short while, there appeared
to be a real ray of hope for change during
Cadiz's brief tenure as Minister of Tourism,
when the Tourism Development Company,
led by Brian Frontin, began to get a firm handle
on the host of marketing challenges necessary
to move T&T out of the best kept secret col-
umn into the Caribbean tourism mainstream.
"Key initiatives, like the appointment of an
advertising agency to be charged with rebrand-
ing and promoting T&T internationally, have
stalled out. Friction between the ministry and
its state enterprise came to a head with chair-
man Brian Frontin resigning in frustration the
Tourism Development Corporation (TDC), as
the ministry withheld virtually all marketing
funds, leaving TDC totally unable to undertake
even the most basic promotional functions,
and leaving a sizeable bureaucracy with nothing
to do but talk to each other."
She said this does nothing to breathe new
life into an ailing industry.
The tourism sector is too important to the
economy to be ignored, she said.
"Either we are going to develop the tourism
sector, with all its hard currency earnings
potential, sector linkages and employment
opportunities, for the benefit of the national
economy, or we are not," she said.
Calls to Sharma's phone on Tuesday seeking
a response to the association's statement went
Barry Bidaisee, managing director, Cascadia
Banquet and Conference Centre, St Ann's,
told the Business Guardian on Monday the
hotel's occupancy rate was better than in 2013.
"We ran a 95 per cent occupancy rate in
2013, so far in 2014, we have had a 100 per
cent occupancy rate. We had new groups from
Los Angeles and Ireland, plus the regulars
from New York, Toronto, London and other
areas" he said.
He said different factors may be responsible
for a better Carnival occupancy rate at his
hotel this year.
"Carnival is getting bigger as an international
event. It is not because T&T is doing more
to market the event, but now there is the
Internet where people learn about T&T's Car-
nival and their interest is piqued to travel.
Carnival is a glamorous event and people want
to be involved in that so they come to Trinidad."
He said the wider acceptance of soca music
internationally has also impacted on raising
"We are seeing local artistes going to award
shows and getting awards abroad, and all of
this help to promote the country and culture."
Carnival, by its very nature, attracts young
people of a certain age bracket, which is another
plus in promoting it globally.
"The demographic age is 25-40 and these
are young people who are young business
executives, young professionals, with the dis-
posable income to get on plane and visit T&T."
At the same time, he said, more needs to
be done to attract new visitors.
"We need more marketing, more airlift,
more product development if we are to see
more visitors come to our hotels and the des-
tination is to be made more attractive. More
work has to be done as after Carnival is over,
there is a drop and things are stagnant at
hotels. At some hotels, there is a just 40 per
cent hotel occupancy rate."
He said the hotel industry and, by extension,
and the tourism sector, contribute to the econ-
"This sector affects the gross domestic prod-
uct (GDP) of the country and helps to employ
people. Just this morning, I heard that the
unemployment rate in the country is at an all
time low and it is employment in the hotel
industry and wider tourism that contribute
to this," he said.
A brief statement from the Hyatt Trinidad
Regency hotel on Monday said the hotel was
"full" during the Carnival period and that vis-
itors came from all over the world. The majority
of guests were from the United States, United
Kingdom and the Caribbean..
According to the Hilton Hotel and Confer-
ence Centre's statement, bookings in the week
before Carnival "continued to be strong" for
2014 and the length of stay is consistent or
longer than last year."
The statement added: "We are fully booked
as of Carnival Thursday, a positive change
from last year, considering our earlier bookings
and longer. We look forward to welcoming
guests from around the world, including trav-
ellers from Caricom, North America and
According to information on Monday pro-
vided by Kapok Hotel in Maraval, there was
a "100 per cent occupancy" from Carnival
Thursday until Tuesday night. Most of Kapok's
guests were from Jamaica and the United
call for aggressive
marketing of T&T
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