Trinidad businessmen have suggested the monetising of the internationally famous Tobago goat racing industry to THA Chief Secretary Orville London.
London recalled that during the recent Tobago Day at the Races at Santa Rose Park, Arima he was approached by businessmen who said “we should really look at monetising the goat race industry in a more serious kind of way”.
London said at least two businessmen would be coming to Tobago to discuss with him their proposals in relationship to that, because they think that there was potential.
He added: “I don’t know where it’s going to go; I don’t know what the nuances are but yes there are some serious businessmen who believe that there is potential and they are actually willing to invest their resources into developing it. So I am looking forward to that meeting and we will see whatever recommendations there are.”
Goat races which are held mainly at Easter time draw scores of local and international visitors to the tracks at Mt Pleasant and Buccoo where the THA spent some $112 million to construct modern facilities to accommodate the event and other cultural activities.
London said he also received an invitation from the president of the Arima Race Club that the next time there was a Tobago Day at the Races he would arrange to have some goat races in front of the member’s section “so that we bring a little bit of variety and a little bit more of Tobago to the process”.
The THA Chief Secretary also commended the Division of Tourism for doing different things including the staging of the Tobago Race Day to attract visitors from Trinidad. “All of us are aware that the tourism sector is having challenges and I think that all of us are aware that if we continue to do things the same way, the situation will continue to decline,” he said.
He said while international visitor arrivals have started to show some positive signs there was a situation where although the domestic market had a lot of potential that continue to grow, “in some cases you don’t get the high end domestic market. Most people in the high end domestic market go to the other islands.
London added: “We in Tobago are saying that there is nothing that you can find in the other islands that you can’t find here in Tobago and you can get it although money may not be as important a factor to them but you can get it cheaper, cheaper and better.”
He said one of the aims of the race day was not only to treat with publicising Tobago in an environment where there was a cross-section of the Trinidad population, but also to make a special appeal to the high-end market in Trinidad.
London noted that what a Trinidadian spent in Tobago was normally higher than what was spent by a visitor from Europe and said that was the reality but the point about it was that they tend not to go to the hotels. “They go to the guest houses and so on and therefore what we are looking at is the kind of Trinidad visitor who will go to the hotel. Those are the people who go up the islands and spend a week as the case may be,” he said.
He said the event had signalled that the Division of Tourism was at least thinking a bit outside of the box and doing things. “How it is going to resonate I do not know but at least we have been able to high profile Tobago and the Division in a way that it has not been able high profile in Trinidad for a little while.