While accommodation bookings for Carnival 2018 in Trinidad are going well says business owners, it is a far different situation in Tobago, mainly due to inter-island transportation woes.
Hoteliers across the island said they are hoping the new ferry service comes before Carnival.
Newsday contacted several hotels, bed and breakfast guest houses in Tobago and was told they were experiencing very low reservations for the Carnival season, which was not good for business.
Winston Pereria, General Manager of Miller’s Guest House located in Buccoo, said generally the winter season in Tobago starts from December 15 to April 30, and comparatively to last year December, occupancy level is much less than they would like it to be.
He said going forward to the month of January, “does not look good.”
“We are registering something like 37 per cent occupancy projected at this time in January similarly to last year. We would have already crossed 70 per cent. The average generally in the industry specifically relating to these four months is above 70 per cent.”
“We have some problems with the people accessing the destination. The domestic market which represents a large part of our turn over and revenue now has been severely crippled because of the fact that we don’t have an existing or reliable ferry service one, and there are still existing problems with the management of Caribbean Airlines,” Pereria he said.
Karl, Pilstl, director of the Blue Haven Hotel located in Bacolet, Scarborough, said he is hoping the new ferry comes before Carnival in order to increase the traffic on the island.
“Bookings have been extremely low for the Carnival season and we are hoping the new ferry comes before Carnival in order for it to improve the whole situation because that is the major reason all the bookings are low. The people who normally comes over are not sure if they will get back on time due to the ferry service. We have a lot of cancellation because of that situation. Everybody on the island is looking forward to the new ferry,” Pilstl said.
Meanwhile, President of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA) Christopher James, said 2018 started the same as they ended in 2017.
“The THTA figures for January 9, stand at 29 per cent last year, and we have achieved 35 per cent, so no, we have not seen an increase in bookings, and until the sea-bridge is rectified and our visitors have regained the confidence to travel to Tobago our domestic arrivals will not increase.”
“International arrivals will only increase with destination marketing, non-stop airlift and an agreed plan for Tobago’s tourism industry. The Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association intends to market throughout Trinidad once the sea-bridge is rectified and hopefully this will increase our forward bookings which at present looks very poor,” James said.
However, when contacted Radisson Hotel Hyatt Regency, Newsday was told the hotels are completely sold out for the two main days for Carnival.
Neemah Persad-Celestine Marketing Communications Manager of the at the Hyatt Regency said excitement is in the air as the hotel is preparing for the season.
“Our annual LIME all-inclusive event took place on Saturday at the Waterfront. Carnival guests can also look forward to another amazing experience at LIME, and also enjoy the many dining options and nightly entertainment at the hotel during the Carnival season,” Persad-Celestine said.