A ten-member Tobago contingent is in Grenada to promote the island’s inaugural Carnival, scheduled for October 28-30.
Speaking to Grenada's MTV News GD on Wednesday, THA Assistant Secretary of Tourism, Culture, Antiquities and Transportation Megan Morrison, who is leading the contingent, said Tobago was invited by the CEO of Spice Mas for an exchange programme.
Grenada's Spice Mas is being celebrated from August 8-9.
Discussing the objectives for the October Carnival, Morrison said: “It is a unique experience we’re trying to put out there.
“Apart from that, Tobago is a naturally beautiful place – we have fabulous beaches, historical sites, we are home for the oldest rainforest in the western hemisphere. So we are vastly becoming the event or festival island in our aim to become the greatest little island on the planet.
"I think there is nowhere else to be. After you leave Miami in early October, come straight to Tobago. You would have an experience of the entire island going straight into Carnival.”
Questioned on the challenges been experienced along the way, she said transportation remains the main issue.
“One of the major challenges right now is to get to Tobago. We are currently booked out for October. We are hoping that some air carriers and some sea vessels would opt to bring in passengers and so on to the island. While everybody wants to get to Tobago, to get to Tobago is the current challenge that the administration is working out and trying to figure out how to get people to Tobago.”
She said to date, talks are ongoing with two cruise lines, adding that while Caribbean Airlines is the national carrier, there are hopes that they too would buy in.
“Put on some extra flights and so on, so we can bring people to the island.
“Grenada, also we are trying to do a charter from Grenada to Tobago via the fast ferry, to experience Carnival in October.”
The major sponsor for the inaugural event, she said, is the THA in their bid to foster the development of the local entrepreneurs.
“We have promoters on the island, we have our local mas entrepreneurs on the island, music trucks – we are trying to generate the economy in Tobago so we would like to inject some finances to those different entities. We have mas producers; it is our business to support these entities to ensure that they are successful.”
And with the country just out of a two-year lockdown on entertainment events owing to the covid19 pandemic, she said people have been yearning for social activities.
“Yes, covid19 is still among us, I think our bodies have learnt to adapt to that virus. Some people still opt to wear the mask, and they are still taking precautions by being sanitised...That has stayed with them, and people will be cautious over the Carnival period.”
Recalling the last two weeks of the Tobago Heritage Festival, she said that people came out in support but were all adhering to the health guidelines.
“We had street parade, different activities in the communities, I have not heard of a spike so that is good news. I think we’re adapting, and I think it would not humbug us come October.”
Discussing the trip on the Tobago Updates morning programme on Wednesday, THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine said there are a few artistes in the contingent, who would perform at some of the events and promote Tobago carnival.
“It is also part of a larger territory of twinning both territories that we are hoping to do. While there, the team would also be meeting with organisers and planners and promoters and government officials from Grenada as well. It would also allow for some knowledge exchange to happen across the space.
The cost benefit analysis, he said, is on two fronts.
“I’m not sure what cost value we can attach to the knowledge gain and sharing because there is a cost to that experience. But, on the other end, we are exploring regional tourism. Tobago has almost always looked to two sources of inputs in tourism – we have looked to Europe, and in particular within recent times we’ve looked to the United Kingdom and very little elsewhere. We have looked to Trinidad for domestic tourism, but we have never really explored regional tourism.”
He said over the next week, the assembly will be trying to meet the Port Authority to continue a conversation started earlier this year about the possibility of chartered sailings, regular sailings between Grenada and Tobago.
“We can’t just start at the place of just developing the port in Tobago, getting duty-free and then saying come to Tobago. What has to happen is that we have to do incremental advertising, engagements with our regional friends and family so that by the time we open up...
"You have to permeate the markets you want to penetrate first – let them know of the brand, know of your product offering and so by the time you open up, you would get an inflow.”
The discussion, he said, is still at the preliminary stage.