Chief Secretary Farley Augustine is denying that a trip by the ten-member Tobago contingent in Grenada cost $291,000, The trip was to promote Tobago’s inaugural Carnival, scheduled for October 28-30.
Speaking on Tobago Channel Five’s Rise and Shine programme on Wednesday, Augustine said, “The cost of the trip is actually less than the $291,000.
“What was leaked was a much earlier document, so it’s under $291,000.”
The exact figure, he said, would be provided on Thursday.
He said for the carnival, there are three main target areas.
“We have the diaspora community that resides outside of the Caribbean. Secondly, we have the regional community, and thirdly, we have the national community, more so the Trinidadian community.”
He said the THA is attempting "an almost unimaginable feat, which is to prepare and execute the carnival, a brand-new carnival, in under one year.”
He said there were several reasons behind the Grenada trip. Firstly, he said, the carnival traveller must be targeted.
“One must appreciate that in the world there are over 86 carnivals that are influenced by the Trini carnival. You have a large group of people that travel from carnival to carnival – so they were in Barbados some weeks ago, they’re in Grenada next, then they’ll move to (Brooklyn) Labor Day next, they would be in Toronto, and so on and so on.
"When we looked at that grouping moving through the region especially, the cheapest target would be Grenada.”
He added that for marketing purposes, it is much more difficult to market to people on an international level than from a national level, noting that the first target naturally has to be those from outside, as that is a much more difficult market to penetrate.
“One would also appreciate that for an international marketing (campaign), we really should be marketing more than one year in advance. We are literally doing it months, weeks in advance, and so we have to get on to the international market even before the national market.”
He said Tobago is at fault for underinvesting in marketing, and spent around ten-$14 million per year in a normal year, pre-covid19, on marketing Tobago, whilst competing with territories like Barbados, Grenada and St Lucia that are spending sometimes close to US$40 million .
“In comparison to our neighbours, who are actually getting a lot more tourists than we do, significantly more than we do, we are spending peanuts on marketing, and they are pumping their investments into marketing their island because they understand where the returns are.”
He said reports to date are that the trip was a huge success, adding that the delegates met with high levels of the Grenadian government, from permanent secretaries to ministers to the prime minister.
Commenting on the travel between Tobago and Grenada via an inter-island ferry, he said he met with Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan on April 29 at his office at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex, Scarborough. The meeting, he said, involved several technocrats and also included a site visit.
“I had already had my first meeting with the port authority. I indicated to Mr Sinanan that we started conversations with the port authority about doing a ferry service to Grenada. I even explained in that meeting, that included other administrators, including the chief administrator – I explained that the first step would have to be doing a one-off chartered service to see the feasibility of the thing.”
He said subsequently he has had other meetings with the port authority, the last of which took place on Friday.
“The agreement that we have with the port authority now is that we would set up a working committee. (On) this committee we are going to include a rep from port authority, customs, immigration, health, and we are also working on getting a representative from the Grenadian side of things, so that we can discuss the matter, look at all that needs to be in place to have a ferry service of this nature.”