T&T: Tourism on verge of collapse?

Trinidad Express:-Tourism stakeholders are calling for a meeting with the Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Minister of Tourism to voice their concerns and propose solutions for boosting the tourism sector.

This comes as they say the tourism sector, particularly in Tobago, is on the verge of collapse.

Representatives of the Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Association (THRTA), Trinidad and Tobago Incoming Tour Operators Association (TTITOA) and Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA) held a news conference at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain, as they made their appeal on Thursday.

THTA president Christopher James noted that international visitor arrivals to Tobago have been on a constant decline.

He lamented that, in the last decade, visitor arrivals have dropped significantly, from approximately 88,000 in 2005 to around 19,000 in 2016.

He added that this country receives less than two per cent of the 30 million international visits to the region each year.
“If this continues, we will not have a tourism industry in Tobago,” he said.

James said his 23 years of experience in the sector have made it clear that successive governments have not understood the value of tourism and its role in economic diversification.

THRTA CEO Brian Frontin said part of the problem was insufficient government allocations towards destination marketing and promotion of Trinidad and Tobago.

He said budgetary allocations to the Ministry of Tourism have also been on the decline, from $61 million in 2013, to an estimated $19 million for fiscal year 2017.

By comparison, he said, hotels and guest houses pay tens of millions of dollars in hotel accommodation tax each year.

The associations are requesting that money paid in hotel accommodation tax be invested back into the sector in the form of marketing and promotion.

TTITOA president Lorraine Pouchet said the decline in tourist arrivals has resulted in a decline in business for tour operators and has become an untenable situation.

She said it was time to get serious about tourism as T&T has the potential to be a premier tourist destination. She added that the tourism sector could potentially create more jobs than the energy sector and could provide a much-needed financial boost to the economy.

But, she said, there seems to be no plan take the sector further.

She added that attempts to meet with Tourism Minister Shamfa Cudjoe in the past have not been successful.


  1. Jahiel868
    February 22, 2017 at 10:05 am

    @Anonymous. I Am a Trinbagonian. Trinidad is more of an industrial island, which still happens to have a vibrant tourism sector and in the near future has the potential to be a premier destination for vacationers.

    Tobago (where I’m from) on the other hand is more laid back; heavily dependent on Tourism as it is my island’s main revenue earner.Did you know, Tobago is one of the best places to retire?! Our population of near 60 000 people, has one of the highest amount of ‘age 50 and over’ migrants, which settles to enjoy their retirement. Our rich traditional culture, probably contributes and reproduces in some way, our laid back and simplistic lifestyle. Undoubtedly, because of the deplorable crime situation in Trinidad, which is slowly creeping in Tobago (roberies mostly as knife/gun violence is relatively low) would have an impact on tourist arrivals. However, what I believe is stifling tourism growth in Tobago is the fact that we have not upgraded a lot of our tourism and historic sites. The supply of basic public utilities and infrastructure is not enough to efficiently service both tourist and locals alike. Tobago’s tourism product hasn’t been efficiently marketed to attract tourist. Money spent to sell Tobago has either been mismanaged or hasn’t proven to generate expected revenue. Rapid development has been taking place in the western side of the island, while the town, (Scarborough) is left undone as well as the northern and eastern sides of the island. Additionally due to our inadequate supply of basic public utilities and infrastructure,we have failed to attract the Brits, (our main supporters) as well as other Europeans and Northern Americans. The Brits has placed pressure on the THA (body that governs all of Tobago affairs) and the THA is now trying to meet their requirements to attract greater arrivals. Tobago’s lone airport, the A.N.R Robinson International airport is too small and needs to be expanded and modernized. The sea bridge has innumerable issues as the port is too small. So in essence in Tobago in particular, visitors want to be able to see and do more, they generally feel and know they’d be safer in Tobago. As for what Tobago has to offer, includes but isn’t limited to watersports, historical sites, heritage sites, hiking, etc. (basically what most other Caribbean destinations offer. What sets us apart is our rich culture and history. We have the largest brain coral in the western hemisphere! Divers worldwide grace our shores just to see and explore it! Popular attractions and festivals include: Pigeon Point Heritage Park, the Buccoo Reef trust, Nylon Pool, Little Tobago (island bird sanctuary), Buccoo goat and crab racing, Great fete weekend, Carib great race, The Tobago Heritage Festival, Tobago Blue Food Festival, Goodwood Yam Festival etc.

    As for Trinidad, there’s lot more to do and see: from the wonderful architecture, food,nightlife and entertainment culture to it’s wonderful scenes and attractions. Trinidad is one of the most (socially, religiously, ethnically, musically and culturally) diverse islands in the Caribbean! Popular sites and attractions include: The Caroni Bird Sanctuary, The Stollmeyer’s Castle, The Pitch lake, The Gasparee caves, Maracas Bay, Las Cuevas Bay, National Academy of the Performing Arts (NAPA & SAPA in the south of the island), The Devil’s Woodyard, Aripita Avenue,The Bamboo Cathedral, The Chagaramas Military Museum, The Chagaramus Development, The Dattatreya Temple (which features an 85 ft statue of Hanuman Murti! ; the largest outside of India), The Waterloo Temple on the sea!The Piparo Mud volcanoe (by the way there are seven mud active mud volcanoes in Trinidad). You can travel ‘down de islands’ (DDI ; five unspoilt islands which offers private secluded beaches, waterfalls etc. with Monos Island being one of the most popular.) There’s many more I have failed to mention because it’s inumerable!

    To conclude, there’s a lot to do and see in Trinidad & Tobago. The islands differences is what compliments it’s rich and exciting diversity, notwithstanding our similarities emanate deep within our culture. Yes, crime is awefully alarming in Trinidad, but it doesn’t stop tourist from visiting (althouth it focuses a great deal more on the energy sector and petro-chemicals). It just requires a bit more caution. (Sorry this was so long, lol)

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