“Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble.” – Proverbs 3:23
The economies of the Caribbean are heavily dependent on tourism.
Trinidad and Tobago’s (T&T) economy, unlike that of most of the English-speaking Caribbean countries, has been led by growth in the petroleum and petrochemical industries.
The major annual tourism event, our Carnival extravaganza, has just concluded successfully after an absence of three years brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Carnival 2023 was an event to be remembered. Plans are already afoot by the organizers and revelers for an even bigger and better event in 2024.
Other major events such as the Caribbean Premier League, the North American spring break season, and the Christmas season, which merges seamlessly into Carnival, make up the core of our existing tourism product.
Tobago is branded separately as a traditional destination, featuring beaches, water sports, diving and glorious bird life.
I asked myself this year, not for the first time: Why is it that the talent displayed primarily during the traditional Carnival season is not leveraged perennially?
I am not referring to the “unique parade of bands” on Carnival Monday and Tuesday, but to potential year-round events featuring calypso, soca, chutney, pan, brass, extempo, comedy, heritage, food, culture, hiking, museums, national trust and other tours about people and places of historic Trinidad & Tobago. All of this could be promoted and shared with the rest of the world
Residents, stayover and cruise tourists, returning residents and the wider Caribbean Diaspora are all part of a captive market for these products and services year-round. Surely this is a missed economic opportunity.
We can attempt to correct this as follows:
(1) I think we understand the importance of a clearly defined value proposition linking the global market to T&T tourism products and services.
(2) Political will and investment are required to provide for marketing services which will communicate the local message to the world. It is no good if T&T’s tourism product is the best kept secret in the world.
(3) Our marketing services have to be state-of-the-art, including digital advertising, data analytics, creative social media management and public relations.
(4) An enabling environment is needed to allow enterprise development to thrive in the tourism sector.
(5) There must be recognition of the importance of service excellence to give the best visitor experience possible.
(6) Smart partnerships with airlines and the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) and its member lines will get our visitors to our shores in larger numbers.
(7) A partnership with Sandals and Beaches all-inclusive resorts, including superb tropical settings, innovative accommodations, world-class cuisine, and excellent service is recommended; and
(8) The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is the Caribbean’s tourism development agency and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is the Caribbean’s leading association representing the interests of national hotel and tourism associations. T&T ought to better leverage its membership in these public and private sector organizations to take advantage of the tourism opportunities to diversify its economy for the benefit of posterity.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is a Change-Engine Consultant. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His columns may be found at www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com).