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Sunday 17 November 2019
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Hoteliers hope for jazz boost

Fantasia, headlines tonight's Tobago Jazz Experience.
Fantasia, headlines tonight's Tobago Jazz Experience.

The Tobago Hoteliers and Tourism Association (THTA) is hoping the 2018 Tobago Jazz Experience would be the start of initiatives to revive the island’s flagging economy.

“We are looking at jazz as part of the resurgence of tourism in Tobago,” said THTA vice-president Carol-Ann Birchwood-James.

“We see the jazz as the beginning of the events that will help revive us after all that has gone for the past year.”

The Tobago Jazz Experience culminates tonight at the Pigeon Point Heritage Park with headline acts Fantasia, Ne-Yo and Anthony Hamilton.

Birchwood-James, a third generation entrepreneur, expressed concern about the bookings for the two-day event, which also featured Jamaican reggae artistes Tarrus Riley and Tanya Stephens.

“The bookings are not great but we are hoping we have some last minute bookings,” she said, adding that Caribbean Airlines has offered guaranteed seats to people with jazz tickets.

“So, that is one of the ways in which the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association and Caribbean Airlines have tried to boost the jazz festival so that this could be the beginning of the resurgence of tourism.

Birchwood-James, a third generation entrepreneur, argued that the problems plaguing the inter-island sea bridge over the past year and the failure of Government to establish the Tourism Tobago Agency in a timely fashion after disbanding the Tourism Development Corporation have contributed to the island’s poor economic position.

“The island economy is in a very poor state at this time because tourism is our mainstay and for the past year we have suffered tremendously. It is partly due to the sea bridge but there were no marketing efforts at all because remember we did not have the TDC and we were waiting to establish the tourism agency. So, no marketing locally or internationally was done.”

Birchwood-James told Sunday Newsday several hotels, guest-houses and villas have not had guests within the past year.

She said in June, members of the association, in conjunction with the Tobago Tourism Agency, have planned to host a road show in Trinidad in an effort to boost Tobago’s economy.

“We intend to spend five days there as part of our marketing strategy to boost our local domestic tourism. Every year, usually we will go to Trinidad and do some packages and invite our Trinidadians to come up and enjoy Tobago.”

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