Tourists’ arrival down  …”WHO TO BLAME?”

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It has come as no surprise that less international tourists visited Trinidad and Tobago in 2017.

What could be the reasons?

Other destinations? More attractive tourists’ destinations? Will the new Sandals project in Tobago bring back the tourists?

Or the high murder and crime rate in Trinidad and Tobago, the policies of the PNM Government and their handling of the economy, or the travel advisories of the big countries?

Instead of dealing with the issues in Trinidad and Tobago, the cabinet headed by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has given permission for Tourism Minister, Shamfa Cudjoe, to go to Germany to promote this country.

Why Germany? Another free trip for the Minister and her advisers?

What does she expect to come out of this trip? While she is in Germany trying to promote this country, the same Germans are telling the same tourism forum that there is too much crime in sweet Trinidad and Tobago.

A Trinidad Hotel Restaurants and Tourism Association (THRTA) report entitled, “Review of the industry–A data-driven perspective” was prepared by THRTA CEO,  Brian Frontin, and forwarded to the Ministry of Tourism on February 27.

Frontin said the Ministry is yet to respond.

According to the report, international tourist arrivals to this country stood at 394,650 in 2017, declining from 408,782 in 2016, and 439,749 in 2015.

The data, which was sourced from the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), confirms that over the past 17 years, there were only five years when the number of international arrivals to this country dropped below the 400, 000 mark -2000, 2001, 2002, 2010, and 2017.

Frontin stated, “More importantly, a direct correlation can be established in the downward trend in international arrivals over the period 2015 to 2017, with the reductions in funding allocation by the Government to the Ministry of Tourism (particularly destination marketing budgets), along with the cessation of contracts of overseas marketing representation, closure of TDC and the president ‘non starter’ status of the replacement entity for Destination Trinidad—Tourism Trinidad Destination Management Company Limited.”

Frontin pointed to the negative international travel advisories issued by the US Embassy and Canadian High Commission, as well as the governments of the United Kingdom and Australia, following the recent so-called plots to disrupt the Carnival.

The US, Canada, and UK accounted for 63 per cent of this country’s international tourist arrivals in 2016.

Frontin added, “With over 60 per cent of Trinidad and Tobago’s international tourist arrivals originating from the three key source markets that have issued stronger travel advisories to their citizens regarding travel to our destination, the risk is patently clear.”

Frontin pointed out that despite the issuance of travel advisories by the US for the UK, France, and Jamaica, those destinations have continued to experience growth in their international tourist arrivals over the past two years.

He said, “The data is clear and highlights that the outlook for the tourism sector in destination Trinidad is grim if continued dependence or performance expectations are placed on the Government, through the Ministry of Tourism and its relevant agencies.

“The current emphasis on ill-structured ‘domestic tourism’ or ‘staycation’ campaigns, the frequent berating of tourism private sector investors, and the adopted posture of non-collaboration with and non-participation of the tourism private sector industry associations in destination management, boards, committees, or programmes, are all sufficient evidence of the need for the forging of a new pathway and model for the stimulation of Trinidad’s tourism sector.”

Frontin said the THRTA will continue to strongly advocate the Trinidad tourism sector possesses the main ingredients for success and can meaningfully contribute to the national economy.

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