Tobago is expecting a bumper Easter weekend with Trinidadians flocking to the island.
Responding to Newsday via WhatsApp on Tuesday, Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA) president Chris James said villas and self-catering properties are the top sellers for the long weekend.
“Easter weekend has seen an increase in bookings and presently stands at 49 per cent across all property types with villas and self-catering doing best,” James said.
Hinting at the limited availability of tickets on both the air- and seabridge, he said the association is advocating for more flights.
“We will be speaking to the authorities to increase ticket availability for Easter. Both the airbridge and sea bridge have limited tickets available, in fact properties are now seeing cancellations from those that have reserved accommodation without confirming tickets to travel.”
He said the association welcomed all visitors from Trinidad as members have implemented all covid19 measures to keep guests safe. He added that members also have deals available on www.tobagolime.com.
Questioned about the occupancy for the first two months of the year, he said the average occupancy across all property types for January and February was 16 per cent, with villas and self-catering properties again the preferred options.
“The visitors from Trinidad are booking later and for shorter periods – two nights being the average stay.”
Tobago Business Chamber president Martin George said he too has received reports that the villas are doing well.
“Our villa owners and villa operators have recorded an increase in business because it appears that lots of persons are opting for the villas to stay.”
On the hotel sector, George said he knows that the Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort is doing well, as he called the other hotel establishments to think outside the box.
“I know for sure that Magdalena has been doing some particular intense marketing in terms of trying to attract the Trinidadian visitors. In fact, I think, (Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort general manager) Vinod (Bajaj) has put a programme in place where he is actually trying to assist persons in getting flights. So, the thing is that we as businesspersons have to become more creative, more inventive, more innovative, and rather than sitting down and crying about the glass being half empty, really to start looking at it as half full and trying to see ways that we can increase the capacity – increase the volume in the glass.”
He added: “We understand that yes these are trying times and these are challenging days, but we still say that we are grateful for the business that comes, and we would try to find ways to increase it. We are glad that there has been a new boat (APT James) and there is another one coming (Buccoo Reef), and we hope that this would also encourage consumer confidence and visitor arrivals in Tobago as we keep pushing the envelope to try to get the tourism sector in Tobago back to some semblance of normalcy.”
Newsday spoke to supervisor at Island Investment Company Ltd Sophie Horde, who said the 32 villas which they manage are fully booked for the period.
“We are fully booked. Most of the properties are booked for five nights plus.”
Property Manager at Tobago Housing Resorts Limited Maria Serrano said all their properties have been booked out as well.