|TRINIS LOVE TOBAGO |
By JULIAN NEAVES Tuesday, July 15 2014
TWO WEEKS after the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) announced a record one million visitors to the sister-isle, the Assembly was yesterday in a celebratory mood after it was revealed Tobago recorded its highest rate of visitors from Trinidad, in the past six years, at more than 500,000.
The Assembly in a release stated that more Trinis were choosing Tobago as their holiday destination, with more than half a million Trinis spending over $117 million on a record number of visits to the sister isle in 2013.
Domestic travellers to Tobago increased by three percent in 2013, with 50,000 more arrivals than 2012, making it the highest number for the past six years. In 2012, 57 percent of Trinis came to the island on the ferry, and 43 percent travelled by air, whereas in 2013, 53 percent flew and 47 percent came by ferry.
The THA noted data from tourism associations on flights and ferries in and out of the island indicates that more Trinis are travelling to Tobago for quick breaks and one to three-day retreats.
Secretary of Tourism and Transportation, Assemblyman, Tracy Davidson-Celestine noted, “even as we dedicate time and resources to promoting Tobago internationally, we always keep an eye on our domestic market, as we know how valuable domestic tourism is for the economy.”
She added, “Domestic tourism helps non-traditional accommodation particularly and, with the new ferry Galicia, we are expecting reduced costs for goods and services which will help make Tobago an even more attractive option for domestic tourists”.
The MV Super-Fast Galicia, which is being leased by this country at a cost of $48 million for one year, will be used for freight between the two islands. Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz had reported that it will transport 5,000 tonnes of cargo, twice the capacity of the current freight vessel, The Warrior Spirit.
The THA noted that holidaying in Tobago by Trinidadians has become a favourite pastime thanks in part to the increased airlift and ferry travel during peak seasons in April, July and December, and during popular festivals such as the Tobago Jazz Experience, Tobago Heritage Festival and the Blue Food Festival.
The Division of Tourism and Transportation also ran a marketing campaign in Trinidad to promote events such as “Tobago Day at the Races”, a preview of the annual goat races at Buccoo and Mount Pleasant; and the “Got To Go Tobago Roadshow,” giving Trinidadians a snippet of Tobagonian music, culture and food, the THA reported.
The THA also cited responses from Trinidadian visitors to the island. “It’s quick, easy, and a great place to breathe some fresh air and chill out,” he says. “I’m here for three days to just relax after a hectic few weeks, and Tobago is near enough and easy enough to make these mini-holidays practical, even at the last minute, so I come here a few times every year,” said Andrew Seepersad from San Fernando.
They also cited the George family of Palo Seco who has been travelling to Tobago at least twice a year since 2005. “Tobago is our second home. The first time we came we fell in love with the island and since then we’ve been back twice a year, and each time with friends,” a family member said.