The Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises has offered to service Tobago with 26 summer cruises to the island starting this summer.
If the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) gets the support of the Tourism Ministry and the Port Authority it will mean a fillip to the island’s tourism sector which has been seeing “hard times” in recent years. The 26 calls at Scarborough will be made by ships with a capacity of 2,000 visitors. This will result in a total of 52,000 more visitors likely to come to Tobago this year.
In revealing this at Monday’s Tourism Standing Committee meeting, THA Tourism and Transportation Secretary Assemblyman Oswald Williams said the Assembly has agreed to the summer cruises in principle and has informed Royal Caribbean Cruises as such. He made it clear that it was going to be a joint venture with the Ministry and the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago since they would have to provide some part of the incentives to be offered to the company.
Williams said: “From the Tobago perspective we have agreed on the summer cruise schedule in principle and we have indicated our position on what kinds of incentives we are prepared to have. It is going to be a joint exercise between Trinidad and Tobago; there has to be an input from the Ministry of Tourism, the Port Authority and so on.
“We are committed to it and we have indicated our intentions to provide our two cents worth of the incentives that are required. That is now with the Ministry and discussions are ongoing,” he added.
The winter cruise season ends at the end of this month.
The Tourism Standing Committee comprising all tourism stakeholders met at the Blue Haven Hotel in Bacolet, Tobago under the chairmanship of THA Chief Secretary Orville London to discuss the Assembly’s $60 million tourism marketing plan 2012.
President of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association Nicholas Hardwick described the plan as an “excellent” one that was “one of the most well thought out marketing presentation that we in the private sector, the hotel sector particularly have seen in many years”.
The hotelier said the plan was done with a high degree of commitment to seeing things put right on the island. “We have enjoyed being able to be involved in the consultative process and to seeing it come to this point,” he added.
Marketing Manager in the Division of Tourism and Transportation Avion Hercules said the proposals in the plan from all indication were well received by the various tourism stakeholders who were very excited about some of the initiatives that were being unfolded at this time.
She said the “Tobago Go Go” campaign was proving to be a resounding success. The campaign involved an incentive of £100 to persons purchasing a one-week holiday package to Tobago up to April 30 for travel by December 31 on Monarch Airlines, Virgin Atlantic Airlines and British Airways. She said as a result there was a 400 per cent increase in bookings and the airlines were requesting an extension of the campaign.
Hercules also disclosed that journalists from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway and representatives of the T&T Tourism Office in London were in the island for the current Tobago Jazz Experience.
She said the Division was partnering with Monarch Airlines and the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association for attractive fares to encourage wedding planners to visit Tobago and participate in the Third Wedding and Honeymoon Symposium from July 22 to 27. It was also partnering with the TDC to promote Tobago and Trinidad and Tobago in St Lucia, Barbados and Panama, adding that Panama was especially important to Trinidad because people came via Copa Airlines and Tobago stood to benefit from that business travel as a value added destination to Trinidad.