HOTELS within the Port of Spain and surrounding environs are booked out for Carnival 2020. Some other businesses that provide accommodation have also been completely sold-out since June 2019.
A media release from the Ministry of Tourism said this year’s January and Carnival season are even better than in 2019 with very few booking cancellations.
The release said there was strong, widespread commitment from the hoteliers to work with Government in collaborating to also drive the growth of visitor arrivals in the off-peak months, especially for hotel properties outside of the capital city that have been impacted by the changes in the oil and gas sector.
On January 22, the hoteliers met with Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell, chairman of Tourism Trinidad Ltd (TTL) Howard Chin Lee, and TTL’s CEO Heidi Alert to discuss Carnival 2020 and concerns and challenges within the sector. This meeting, which was the first in a series of hotel fora, was held at Tower D Level 18 Conference Room of the International Waterfront Centre.
The hoteliers urged TTL to proactively bid to host conferences and have a stronger marketing presence in world-renowned conferences and other business shows such as IMEX in Las Vegas, the release said. It was suggested that more effort be placed on maximising sports tourism, especially for winter team training, at facilities such as the Aquatic Centre and Cycling Velodrome.
This release noted the continued growth in arrivals at top hotels, citing a 3.3 per cent increase in arrivals in 2019, in comparison to 2018; this after three consecutive years of decline in 2016, 2017 and 2018. It said arrivals increased in every month of 2019 except for January, with the largest increase of 15 per cent in October 2019 . Overall 367,119 visitors arrived in 2019 – an increase of 11,588 tourists.
Mitchell said in the release the ministry is continuing its thrust to boost the industry. “While we celebrate these small wins, we must now look forward to building on these achievements in 2020, as we continue to work with our valued industry partners and stakeholders, to further develop and enhance Trinidad’s tourism product,” he said.
During his interaction with the hoteliers, Mitchell reiterated his satisfaction at having an opportunity to meet the private sector on a regular basis to discuss a broad range of issues and keep abreast of the latest developments. Mitchell and Chin Lee also informed the hoteliers of government’s actions on moving the industry forward.
Representatives at the hotel forum included CEO and group CFO of the Radisson Hotel, Ashram Ramnarine; managing director of Kapok Hotel Jane Chan; director sales and marketing of Hilton Trinidad, Darlene Mc Donald; director sales at Marriott Hotel Liselle Ali Boodhan; director sales at Hyatt Regency Trinidad Marissa Diaz; general manager of The Normandie Raymond Chin Lee; and general manager of Cara Suites Hassel Thom.
Among the other matters addressed at this hoteliers’ meeting were the implementation of Destination Trinidad’s brand identity, digital marketing initiatives, improved visitor safety and security programmes, increased scrutiny of the Airbnb market locally, and activation of a compulsory certification programme for the tourism industry