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Tobago suffers decline in domestic tourism

Published: 
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
File photo: Passengers and vehicles board the T&T Express at the Tobago Ferry Terminal in Port-of-Spain. PICTURE KERWIN PIERRE

The July/August vacation has not yielded the usual upswing in domestic tourism for Tobago. The island is not enjoying favourable local arrivals, says Chris James, chairman of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association.

In fact, he said, there has been decline in domestic arrivals compared to previous years and he blames the situation on the on going “seabridge saga”.

“The Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA) realises we have a lot of rebuilding to do to regain the confidence of the sea-bridge traveller,” James told the T&T Guardian yesterday.

James said during the July/August period Caribbean Airlines puts additional flights to accommodate locals but that has not filled the gap caused by problems on the seabridge.

“In fact, the capacity needed remains an unknown,” he said. “If visitors have confidence in both the air and sea bridge services then the movement between Trinidad and Tobago is easy.”

He said it is the belief of the THTA that there are significant economic benefits for north islands in terms of jobs and tax collection with efficient air and sea links. However, he said, that is not the case at present.

James’ grim assessment of the situation was supported by feedback from operators of some Tobago hotels and guesthouses who said the numbers “were not so good” compared to last year.

“Normally we are booked well in advance—from as early as January—for the August period but this year bookings came in late.

“People are complaining about the boat not being reliable and most of the locals who come to Tobago for August bring their vehicles. We definitely need a more effective seabridge if business is to improve,” the owner of a guest house at Crown Point said.

Since the collapse of the seabridge last year, it is estimated that Tobago’s tourism sector has suffered $700 million in losses.

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