This Great Race weekend is shaping up to be a bumper weekend for Tobago hoteliers in the Crown Point area in an otherwise “worst July/August” period.
The Great Race takes place on Saturday, starting from 8am at the Foreshore in Port of Spain and ending at Store Bay. Some 40 boats will participate in the annual event.
A spokesperson at Johnston Apartments in Store Bay reported that all rooms were booked at this time.
“We are fully booked straight through into September 1… people are still calling for Great Race, but we are unable to accommodate anyone as the guests we have and those we are expecting would have pre-booked and already had their tickets in hand at the time of placing their call,” the spokesperson said.
At the nearby Crown Point Beach Hotel, a front desk staff said that hotel too, fully booked for the weekend.
“We have roughly about 68 rooms on the property and all are fully booked from Friday, most of these guests would be checking out on Monday. Every year for the annual Great Race event, we are fully booked, so these rooms would have been booked well in advance and yes, these guests are confirmed, be it by boat or by the airline,” said the staff member.
The Port Authority, meanwhile, said it has no plans to increase sailings for the period.
“For now, we still have all our regular sailings planned, one from Trinidad and one from Tobago and in each sailing, we accommodate 765 persons,” said Vilma Lewis-Cockburn, Manager, Marketing and Public Relations at the T&T Inter-island Transportation Company (TTIT).
Attempts to contact Communications Manager at Caribbean Airlines (CAL), Dionne Ligoure, for information on the airlines plans for the weekend were unsuccessful as all calls went unanswered. In a previous press release, CAL said for the July/August peak period, the airline looked at the number of events carded to take place in Tobago and planned its schedule accordingly. For August and September, the airline is scheduled to provide 165,292 seats, the release said.
Last week, the Tobago Hotel & Tourism Association (THTA) reported a further decline in domestic arrivals for this July-August period compared to the same period of previous years.
THTA President, Chris James, who noted that data was still being compiled for the period, said the ongoing problem with reliability of the sea bridge has severely depleted the capacity achieve by Tobago’s hotel sector over the last few years and much work must be done to regain the confidence of the domestic traveller.
“Caribbean Airlines has added flights, but this could never fill the gap left by the reduced capacity on the sea bridge. In fact, the capacity needed remains unknown,” James said.
Various operators in the accommodation sector also blamed the sea bridge for reduced occupancy and therefore reduced income, reporting sporadic bookings and cancellations.