PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Randall Mitchell, minister of tourism, together with chairman of Tourism Trinidad Limited (TTL), Howard Chin Lee, and TTL’s chief executive officer, Heidi Alert, hosted a forum for hoteliers on January 22, 2020, to speak on Carnival 2020 expectations, address concerns and challenges within Trinidad and Tobago’s accommodation sector.
This meeting, the first in a series of hotel fora, was held at Tower D level 18 conference room of the International Waterfront Centre, revealed that: “Hotels within the Port of Spain and surrounding environs are presently witnessing a 100 percent occupancy rate for Carnival 2020; with some accommodation properties indicating that they were completely sold out since June 2019. Indeed, guests have already made bookings for Carnival 2021. This year’s January and Carnival season is even better than in 2019 as there have been very few booking cancellations.”
There was a strong widespread commitment from the hoteliers to work with the government in collaborating to drive the growth of visitor arrivals in the off-peak months, especially for hotel properties outside of the capital city who have been impacted by the changes in the oil and gas sector.
The hoteliers urged Tourism Trinidad to proactively bid to host conferences and have a stronger marketing presence in world-renowned conferences and other business shows such as IMEX in Las Vegas.
Moreover, it was pointed that more effort must be placed on maximising the potential of sports tourism in Trinidad, especially for winter team training, given the high-quality facilities at our Aquatic Center and Cycling Velodrome and the country’s reputation for hosting and managing successful regional and international events.
This high-level engagement with prominent hotels in Trinidad came at a time when the island has enjoyed a 3.3 percent increase in arrivals in 2019 in comparison to 2018; after three consecutive years of decline (2016, 2017, 2018). Arrivals increased in every month in 2019 except for January; the largest increase occurred in the month of October 2019 (+15 percent). A total of 367,119 visitors were welcomed to Trinidad in 2019; an absolute increase of 11,588 tourists.
“While we celebrate these small wins, we must now look forward to building on these achievements in 2020, as we continue to work with our valued industry partners and stakeholders, to further develop and enhance Trinidad’s tourism product,” Mitchell said.
During his interaction with the hoteliers, minister Mitchell reiterated his satisfaction at having an opportunity to meet the private sector on a regular basis. He mentioned that these occasions allow him to interact with hotel owners and directors, to discuss a broad range of issues and keep abreast of the latest developments.
Among the other matters discussed at this hoteliers’ engagement were the implementation of Destination Trinidad’s brand identity, digital marketing initiatives, improved visitor safety and security programs, increased scrutiny of the Airbnb market in Trinidad, and activation of a compulsory certification program for the tourism industry.
Minister Mitchell and Chin Lee, also used the opportunity to inform the gathering of government’s actions moving forward with regards to the industry.