Tactical marketing, strategic development and investment stimulation are essential for the sustainable development of Tobago’s tourism industry, according to Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary of Tourism and Transportation, Assemblyman Tracy Davidson-Celestine. The Assemblyman was making her contribution during the Tobago House of Assembly Budget debate on Thursday, 27 June 2013.

Davidson-Celestine started her presentation by highlighting recent progress that has been made within the tourism industry, including a 2 percent increase in international arrivals in 2012, three new cruise calls in the 2012-2013 cruise season, and CNN’s recent listing of the Pigeon Point Heritage Park among the world’s 100 best beaches. 

The Secretary then outlined the Division of Tourism and Transportation’s strategic plan for the next fiscal year, which is designed to expand the island’s tourism sector into a year-round industry.

Product Development

Emphasizing the need for an intensive product development drive, she said that the Division is committed to improving the island’s room stock, sites and attractions.

In addition to enhancing the current room stock, Davidson-Celestine confirmed that work has begun to introduce new accommodation options to the island. This will be done through a committee of tourism officials and private sector representatives charged with assessing the feasibility of constructing low cost, high quality accommodations on approved sites, including Englishman’s Bay and Culloden Estate.

Lighting of beaches, the construction of an 18-hole golf course and a Heritage Trail through Scarborough are among other projects identified.

Apart from the physical infrastructure, the Division will continue its efforts in the area of customer service training through programmes like the Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Industry Certificate (TTTIC). The Division will also introduce an island-wide Hospitality Assured programme that targets the accommodation and restaurant sectors.

“The intent is to offer a different and unique visitor experience that is unmatched and of high value,” Davidson-Celestine said.

Marketing and Transportation
The Deputy Chief Secretary also indicated that plans are underway to intensify the Division of Tourism and Transportation’s efforts in existing source markets through a tailored marketing approach.

In order to deliver on its mandate to increase international tourist arrivals to 40,000 by 2015, the Division will begin exploring new source markets in Latin America, Scandinavia and selected Caribbean nations. It will also continue successful programmes such as the Tobago Travel Specialist Programme and the recently expanded Go Go Go Programme.
Marketing efforts will be executed in conjunction with transportation initiatives to ensure current airlift and cruise arrangements are maintained, but also to lay a solid foundation to attract new air- and cruise-lines.

With investment listed as a priority of the Division, the Secretary also indicated that an Investment Analyst will be introduced to the Division’s organizational chart. This officer will pursue and attract prudent investment opportunities that are aligned with the Tobago House of Assembly’s mantra of a clean, green, safe and serene Tobago in order to stimulate development of the island’s tourism product.

Other areas identified in Davidson-Celestine’s presentation were the implementation of a public awareness campaign, tourism community initiatives and the renewal of Dwight Yorke’s contract as Brand Ambassador for Tobago.

Noting that the tourism industry is currently responsible for 36.7 percent of Tobago’s GDP and approximately 14,000 jobs, the Assemblyman called on Central Government to provide the necessary funding for the Division to execute its plans for the next fiscal year.

“It is important that they understand that the $381.5 million requested represents a need, not a want,” she said.