Louis Lewis, CEO, Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd, has said a product audit carried out last year by the agency revealed there is need for greater marketing of the island's offerings online.
Speaking at a news conference on Thursday at the agency's Jerningham Court, Scarborough headquarters, Lewis said the audit gave "close detail" on the quality of Tobago's tourism product.
"Some of the issues we discovered, for instance, was the lack of visibility digitally..... we are working internally, actively to partner with our hotel properties to see how we can improve our visibility online," he told reporters.
"Once this is done, I think (tourist) arrivals will really take off because we are creating impressions. The issue is to translate those into actual sales which translates further into visitations to Tobago."
Nevertheless, Lewis said Tobago is still in a very strong position.
"I am confident the 8.2 per cent increase we saw in arrivals for 2019, although below our initial target, still indicates clearly that we are in the right direction and I think that as we continue to work strategically, learning from the lessons of 2019, we will see some increased arrivals to Tobago in 2020."
Lewis said the agency had initially projected a target of 25 per cent for international tourist arrivals, last year.
"And we were quite aggressive with that, but there are a number of reasons why we have not attained that target."
He said the liquidation of British tour operator Thomas Cook last September contributed to the island's failure to meet the target.
"Thomas Cook, which is a significant provider of visitations in the winter months, were out of the market. We were able to secure the business that was already booked prior to the collapse. But notwithstanding that, we still lost some significant capacity."
Lewis said there also was a lot of concern about the performance and viability of Condor, which was closely associated with the Thomas Cook operations.
"We saw a reduction in the demand notwithstanding we had overall growth. But it was very hard to actually continue to sell becacause there was the perception it would have followed suit."
However, Lewis said Condor recently indicated to the agency it has been purchased by a Polish airline which has very deep connections to the Scandanavian region and Europe, generally.
"So, our strategy has adjusted to feed arrivals to Tobago through their netowrks and we have every reason to believe that 2020 will be a strong year for us because of that development."
Looking ahead, Lewis told reporters the agency is continuing to pursue blue flag certification, "a world-recognised endorsement that we are sustainable and responsible.
"And if beaches are part of our attractors and what people expect to participate in when they visit Tobago, we want to show that we have world class and responsible beaches."
Saying they are also pursuing green key certification in the areas of accommodation and hospitality, Lewis said a steering committee has been established with cross-sectoral representation.
"We are pursuing that certification for a number of our properties."
Lewis said the agency is also actively pursuing the Tourism Certification Upgrade Programme.
"In 2019, we had a total of six properties that were reimbursed for some of the initial upgrade works they were engaged in. I am happy now to report that we have moved from six to 22 companies and properties that are engaged in the process at various levels.
"So, the programme is actually moving and, as a result of that, one of the perennial problems that we have had is the complaint about the quality of accommodation . That is actually going in a positive direction.