President of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA), Christopher James, also says that while the problem began a decade ago, it has gotten worse in recent years.
“Tobago’s occupancy rates in October were about nine percent. Last month, November, they were only slightly better - ten percent. We are beyond the critical position for Tobago.” James, in pointing out how critical it is for tourism associations and Government to work together in an urgent manner to address the problem, revealed that international arrivals to Tobago were down by 25.84 percent.
“That is a continuation of decline for the last ten, 11 years,” James stated, “where back in 2005 we had just under 88,000 arrivals and this year, we’re looking round about 19,000 or a little less than that in international arrivals.” Regarding the proposed construction of a Sandals hotel in Tobago, James lamented that even if that does happen, it would be a few years too late for hoteliers on the island.
“We cannot wait for Sandals in Tobago to come. We need help now.
We have certain criteria that need to be fulfilled.
We need money at lower rates of interest to help us get through this. We need incentives in other areas. Our incentives, compared with the rest of the region, are pretty poor.” James was speaking during a press conference at Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain on Thursday, co-hosted by the Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Association (THRTA) and the Trinidad and Tobago Incoming Tour Operators Association (TTITOA).
They appealed to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to intervene as he has done for the energy sector, and rescue the tourism industry.