The turnout for the Tobago Jazz Experience on April 28-29 shows there is a willingness and interest by Trinidadians to travel to Tobago despite problems with inter-island transportation over the past year.
So said Kaye Trotman President of the Tobago Unique Bed and Breakfast and Self-Catering Association , as she reported that some members reported a 45 percent occupancy rate for the festival but that yet others reported no bookings.
Trotman said a higher percentage was expected with the return of the T&T Spirit to the sea bridge and additional flights put on by Caribbean Airlines Limited. (CAL).
"I was expecting 50 percent (occupancy). We did not see much reservations coming in but we were hoping that there would have been some last minute bookings, wich would have taken it to 60 percent or even 100 percent for some.
“Since it was only a two-day event this year, we didn’t expect people to stay more than one night. I was hoping for a better performance for members in the Crown Point area, seeing that it was where the main show was hosted (at the Pigeon Point Heirtage Park.). Many of us in the Crown Point area didn’t get anything at all which was surprising for me.
"There might have been plenty people on the island but they didn’t necessarily need accommodation given the short period of the event.”
Trotman said the Association was interested in the outcome of the evaluation report of the Tobago Jazz Experiencebeing done by economist Dr Ralph Henry for the Tobago Festivals Commission.
“It will be interesting to see what parameters he is using to assess the viability of the festival given the new approaches that the Festival Committee took to execute the project. The fact that there is now a committee running the jazz event rather than the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), we are very interested in what the findings would be,” she said.
Trotman reiterated that more work was needed to restore the confidence of the domestic market. She said the turnout for the jazz festival was a sign that the tourism sector in Tobago could be revived in a few months time.
"It shows the possibility of the growth, and it shows there is still interest in the Tobago market. Once we can offer experiences for the domestic market to enjoy, there is still a market there that we must work on, want to rebuild, to enhance and keep.
"At least, if it doesn’t completely build back confidence, it shows that Tobago has a product that we can offer. We still have some more work to do because this (jazz) was a one-time event. Confidence will now be based on the actual performance of the vessel (T&T Spirit) on the interisland route.”
Meanwhile, Chris James, President of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association, reported a 46 percent occupancy rate for jazz by members.
"We had a wide variance from many smaller properties with very low occupancy to one or two properties reaching 100 percent. Again, larger properties seemed to do better on average. It is difficult to clearly state how many of the visitors who stayed in the properties went to jazz and this data we will attempt to capture at future events.
“It appears from all reports that generally those that attended were pleased with the jazz experience. The Association looks forward to the co-operating with Dr Ralph Henry and seeing the results of the report into the jazz festival and other events planned as these activities can, if organised in advance, be an important niche and add to destination Tobago’s tourism many attractions,” he said.