It's been a signature feature of the Public Service Transport Corporation's (PTSC's) social outreach in Trinidad for years.
Now, the PTSC's Know Your Country tours have finally come to Tobago.
The initiative offers tourists and locals the opportunity to visit the island's historic sites, breathtaking attractions and idyllic beaches, all in one package.
These include Goldsborough Heritage Park, Fort Bennet, Arnos Vale Water Wheel, Speyside Lookout, Plymouth Adventure Nature Reserve, among other popular destinations.
Nadine Stewart-Phillips, Secretary for the Division of Tourism, Culture and Transportation, regarded the PTSC's Explore Tobago: Know Your Country Tours as timely and in sync with the division's major objectives, which includes the implementation of programmes and initiatives that are geared towards Tobago's premier sites and attractions in an attempt to appeal to and retain local, regional and international visitors.
Addressing the launch of the initiative on October 4 at Fort King George, one of Tobago's leading tourist attractions, Stewart-Phillips said the tours come at a time when the Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd is making significant strides in positioning the island as a premier tourist destination.
She said the launch follows Tobago being voted 44th in the 50 best islands of the world category, according to global travel site, Big 7 Travel.
"This certainly indicates that Tobago is gaining further recognition and making its mark on the international stage," she told guests.
Saying the tours have the ability to facilitate greater tourism awareness among the island's citizens and visitors, Stewart-Phillips said it also has the potential to generate an increased appreciation for Tobago's natural wonders and historic treasures.
"I look forward to the immense multi-generational impact this project will have as our residents and visitors become more acquainted with the knowledge of Tobago and its sites and attractions."
Stewart-Phillips said based on previous statistics provided by the PTSC, approximately 40,000 people use the bus system in Tobago on any given month.
"I cannot envision another single land service provider that has such a large customer base and, for this reason, I believe this is the ideal platform to efficiently merge public transportation with education and leisure tours."
Stewart-Phillips said the tours would also encourage constant training for workers in the tourism and hospitality sector.
"This is an area that I am deeply passionate about. Customer service is indeed critical to the development and sustainability of tourism on our island and therefore, tour guides, who are among our frontline agents, must always be in line with the established industry standards and have a broad-based knowledge of our local tourism offerings. It is all part of the overall customer service experience that will ensure repeat visitors and encourage new arrivals to Destination Tobago."
Stewart-Phillips said the viable returns the island aspires to see from its tourism industry require a multi-sectoral collaborative approach with a great level of public-private partnerships.
"It is always welcomed when other divisions and ministries partner to ensure that our goals and objectives are realised."
Saying initiatives like the Know Your Country tour cannot be championed only by the government and its agencies but require all hands on deck, Stewart-Phillips urged the private sector to continue to seek out avenues where it can work together with the division for a better island and tourism industry.
PTSC general manager Bashir Mohammed said the Know Your Country tours will contribute positively to the development of Tobago's tourism product.
"The major benefit of the tours is its contribution to the employment opportunities for Tobagonians," he said.
"There will be a direct need for tour guides and support staff. Indirectly, there will be increased need for supporting hospitality services such as hotel accommodation, restaurants, food and beverage and other related services.
"Imagine in planning your vacation, you can schedule a bus to pick you up at the port, take you to your predetermined hotel destination, get your favourite foods/beverages and take that same bus to your favourite suites – all in one package."
Mohammed said the service will also boost the thrust toward economic diversification "from a nation that is heavily dependent on oil and gas to one that is developing its tourism sector, thus not relying on one single industry for revenue generation."
He added: "This will also give locals a chance to experience Tobago like they never did before as more locals will encourage a vacation from at home and, by extension, contribute to enhancing the small business sector of economic development and increasing GDP."
Mohammed said bringing tourists into a community creates entrepreneurial opportunities to establish new services, products and facilities.
"Tourists are all great potential customers and, with the necessary approach, can be targeted in a business strategy that will allow for fantastic successes."