Chief Sec eyes sport as Tobago tourism game changer
Chief Secretary Farley Augustine is eyeing sport as a tool to make Tobago a major player in the tourism market.
Augustine was speaking on Monday at the opening of World Travel Market 2022, ExCel London, where he is leading a local delegation.
Also on the trip are Secretary of Tourism, Culture and Antiquities Tashia Burris, Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd chairman Alicia Edwards, hoteliers, foreign marketing partners, the Tobago Performing Arts Company and other stakeholders,
In an interview with Tobago Updates morning show, Augustine said there are hundreds of booths at the market, which ends on Wednesday. He said the delegation is involved in about 20 meetings a day.
Augustine said he had met with Sport 5, an Israeli sport television company owned by the RGE Group.
"Sport 5 broadcasts all (English) Premier League games, NBA games, a variety of sports, to over 1.6 billion people in Europe. We just discussed, a short while ago, putting Tobago ads while you're watching your favourite football team."
He quipped, "That must be Arsenal, right – not Man United."
Augustine said he also has a meeting with the Peacock TV channel to pitch Tobago as a premier golfing location.
"This company has a listing of A-list golfers, retired A-list golfers as well. They are interested in making Tobago one of their destinations, where golfers from all around the world – we're talking about the Tiger Woods of the world –would want to come and play."
There were also discussions with one of the top travel agencies in England.
The Parlatuvier/L’anse Fourmi/Speyside electoral representative will also meet with one of the principals of Apple Leisure Group, which had shown interest in buying the Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort, but that deal fell through. He said the group is working with another investor for a new hotel in Kilgyn Bay.
The delegation is also scheduled to meet British Airways, British Airways Holidays, and JetBlue. Augustine said discussions will be held with Scandinavian airlines, as Tobago has traditionally been a popular destination for that market.
Augustine said after all the meetings at the market, notes will be collated and decisions made on what is best for Tobago.
"No doubt, Tobago can't sign on to everything. A lot of this comes at a cost. We can't sign on to every deal that comes our way."
He said it is time for Tobago to get active and stop talking.
"Over the next couple days, we'll be meeting with players in the tourism industry, negotiating, trying to make deals for Tobago; trying to get some investments – hotels; trying to get more visitors, get the uptick going; trying to get airlines from areas around the world – market Tobago, which for the most part has been undiscovered, untouched, unspoilt."
Augustine said Tobago must find a way to punch above its weight.
"We have to break through and do something different. We have to push the envelope and do something that we would not have otherwise been comfortable doing – seek out new hotel developments, room upgrades, standardisation of products, proper rating system for restaurants, bars, hotels. What we would be doing is making Tobago more accessible to the world."
Augustine stressed that the THA must not continue to be the main employer on the island.
"That is not healthy or sustainable for any economy. We have to develop the private sector. We talking about more jobs, better paying jobs, you're talking about a competitive economy with a competitive industry."
"Chief Sec eyes sport as Tobago tourism game changer"