That is the word from hoteliers in Port-of-Spain and environs regarding tourist bookings for Carnival 2015, with a number of places having been fully booked months ago.
Executive Director of the Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Association (THRTA), Louanna Chai-Alves, reported that hotels in Port-of-Spain and environs have full occupancy for Carnival up to February 17 (Carnival Tuesday) 99.9 percent of hotel rooms are sold out. She reported that THRTA has 18 member hotels in Port-of-Spain and environs representing 1,600 hotel rooms.
She noted the rooms, reserved for four to five nights, had been paid for before the end of 2014. The occupancy increases from this Wednesday, February 11, and there is full occupancy from Carnival Friday. On Ash Wednesday the majority of visitors depart.
“This has been the trend for the past four to five years,” she said.
Chai-Alves noted that Port-of-Spain is more or less at capacity for five nights so it is difficult to expand any more in that direction and expressed hope that through the Tourism Development Company (TDC), they could extend sales outside of five-night period. She said visitors can be persuaded to come two to three weeks before Carnival weekend and enjoy pre-Carnival activities like Panorama and Calypso shows. To accomplish this would involve packaging and promotion of these events and the THRTA would have to work very closely with the TDC to put these on their calendar of activities, she said.
Chai-Alves noted too that hotels in other parts of the country, such as South and Central Trinidad, do not usually sell out and remain with rooms. She said currently these hotels still have available rooms .
Hassel Thom, general manager at Cara Suites Hotel and Conference Centre in Claxton Bay, said they have received some bookings but Carnival was not as vibrant in the South as it is in Port-of-Spain.
“We should see more spillover but they (visitors) predominantly go to Port-of-Spain,” he said.
Chai-Alves also noted bed and breakfast facilities were also fully booked, even before the major hotels, many of them having a strong core of repeat guests so they tend to be booked Carnival to Carnival.
Small Tourism Accommodation Owners of TT President, Denise Aleong-Thomas, confirmed that the association has recorded 100 percent occupancy in Port-of-Spain and environs and some places had bookings as early as July and August last year.
Aleong-Thomas said the full occupancy has been a continuing trend and more or less the same. She also pointed out the fears that Carnival may be cancelled due to the threat of Ebola did not have any impact on their bookings.
“So far it will be a good season,” she added.
According to the Central Statistical Office visitor arrivals for the Carnival period have fluctuated between 2000 and 2012; more recent data was not available.
For 2000, the number of visitors stood at 42,646, plummeted the following year to 35,221, dropped again in 2002 and then rose steadily to 42,868 in 2006. There was another steep drop of more than 5,000 visitors in 2007 to 37,258, and the figure alternatively rose and fell by an average of 2000 visitors up to 2012 when the figure was 38,252.