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Tuesday 24 April 2018
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Shamfa: 10 years of low tourist arrivals

Shamfa Cudjoe

TOURISM Minister Shamfa Cudjoe said tourist arrivals have been going down for the past decade and a different approach was needed for tourism.

“Numbers have been dwindling since 2008. Not last year or the year before.”

According to a report from the Trinidad Hotel Restaurants and Tourism Association, international tourist arrivals to TT stood at 394, 650 in 2017, a drop from 408,782 in 2016, and 439,749 in 2015. The data, sourced from the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, reported that for the past 17 years there were five years when the number of international arrivals to this country dropped below the 400,000 mark: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2010, and 2017.

Cudjoe reported from 2008 to the present only three years showed an increase.

“And it tells you that we have to do something different. Trinidad and Tobago is too beautiful, has too much to offer, yet we have our challenges. But there is something we have to do differently.”

She was speaking on Thursday at the launch of Cable and Wireless’ New Hospitality Solutions at Hilton Trinidad, Port of Spain.

Cudjoe stressed it was impossible to talk about travel and tourism without talking about technology.

“If you have not jumped on board with this whole new wave of technological advancement, using technology to drive your business, you are going to be left behind.”

She said this country was playing catch-up in terms of tourism and technology, but noted the tourism ministry has established its digital transformation programme where it helps stakeholders to establish social media presence and internet presence so they can market themselves properly. She explained that when it launched the Stay to Get Away programme in 2016 and reached out to hoteliers and other stakeholders for the links to websites, Facebook pages and high-definition pictures, “You would be surprised some of these entities don’t have internet access or an internet presence.”

She said she was pleased to see the private sector and Cable and Wireless help pick up the slack and assist the tourism sector.

Director of unified communications and collaboration, C&W Business Rafael Chavez, said it was about attracting the modern traveller and investing money not only in a physical stay but in a digital stay as well.

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