The successful hosting of the Inaugural Tobago Carnival last October is the crowning achievement of the THA Division of Tourism, Culture, Antiquities and Transportation, says its secretary, Tashia Burris.
Speaking on the Tobago Updates morning show on Friday, Burris said the event held under the theme Ritual, Revelry, Release, from October 28-30, was “testimony of the synergy" between herself and the assistant secretary Megan Morrison.
While there were over 30 private events during the period, there were five main events hosted by the Tobago House of Assembly: Pan in the Gayelle (October 28), J'Ouvert, Night Mas, Emerge Carnival Masquerade Gala (October 29), culminating with Parade of the Bands (October 30).
Burris said: “What it did on the tourism front was bring approximately 30,000 visitors to the island of Tobago in the month of October, for the entire month of activities during which the Carnival was proclaimed.”
She said in terms of preliminary figures that were received from the economic front; visitors' spend was in the vicinity of $300 million.
“So we’re talking about $300 million back into the economy of Tobago during that time.
“Certainly, our hotels were filled, our car rentals were oversubscribed, our service providers for the different events were also heavily oversubscribed. I saw the carnival as a success for the common man because it was an opportunity for persons who are in the business sector, in particular, to take advantage of the opportunities that it presented.”
She said the THA didn’t spend anywhere close to the $17.5 million initially allocated for the event.
“The actual spend was something in the region of $13 million so we were able to realise some cost savings and that in itself to me speaks to prudent management of our resources and also speaks to the fact that in that short space of time, we were able to do so much, accomplish so much, and make such a huge mark.”
She said one of the things that was noticeable to her was the feedback received, especially from the international visitors who "thoroughly enjoyed" the carnival.
"It was extremely safe, they appreciated being able to have this experience – our island was one of the best they experienced.
"The hospitality that they experienced from the people was exceptional, the customer service was good. So, I think that having events like this augurs well long term for us to transform our overall tourism thrust and be able to put on a better face out there for Tobago in general.”
She said there were challenges, but “I am saying we know that we can put in the work, we know that we can put our best face and foot forward and I think that all we have to do is continue to do that and we would continue to see the successes as a result.”