Trinidad Carnival 2012

February 21, 2012 by staff 

Trinidad Carnival 2012, The good news is that Carnival remains capable of attracting tourists to Trinidad and to Tobago in impressive numbers. Tourism has long remained the might-have-been big business for T&T that it is recognised as almost everywhere else in the Caribbean.

This appears confirmed by Central Statistical Office arrival figures showing a 4.3 per cent rise in 2011, and by the 98 per cent occupancy rate claimed by Tourism Minister Rupert Griffith for Port of Spain hotels in 2012.

In Tobago, a similar pattern shows. As reported in last week’s Business Express, Carnival-time bookings have been solid. Hotels, guest houses, bed-and-breakfast householders, and tour operators report enjoyment of a bumper season.

Blessed by energy resources and income derived from them, T&T has also been cursed by helpless dependence on that single industry. Natural gas and oil are wasting assets and, while they last, are notorious for their cyclical boom-and-bust performance on the international markets.

In the long-espoused need to diversify, that is, to gain sources of foreign exchange other than energy-related, tourism has continued to be identified as a promising prospect. It is already a major plank of economic viability, and employment, in Tobago; so the Carnival spike in visitor arrivals is all to the good.

The bad news is that the tourism outlook continues to appear less-than-bright after the Carnival season. The drawing power annually reduced in the post-Ash Wednesday period is dreaded by those in the business, as much as it is appreciated before Carnival.

As Tobago’s Hotel and Tourism Association president Nicholas Hardwicke, appraising the industry horizon this past week, said: “That is not looking so good and we need to do some marketing.”

The good news and the bad news are both old news for tourism in T&T. With uncertain success, the central government and the Tobago House of Assembly authorities contend against the challenge of maintaining a relatively steady stream of visitors and tourism activity throughout the year.

Industry veteran Ali Khan, general manager of the Hilton Trinidad, last week soberly assessed this country as still not ready for the tourism big-time. Mr Khan blamed negative factors in red tape “hassles” in discouraging investment, and cited familiar negatives in crime and unsatisfactory labour productivity.

Tourism Minister Griffith has talked a good game and ventured abroad to the end of dynamising promotion for the T&T tourism industry. Maybe what is needed is wider industry-wide co-ordination of planning, distilling of ideas and collaboration toward the common purpose of gaining a permanent sound footing.

The Hilton general manager has offered suggestions for looking beyond Carnival-eco-tourism, medical tourism, and cultural tourism. These and other ideas deserve renewed priority, and active consideration of government planners if, as they say, they are serious about advancing the process of making tourism an economic diversification option.

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