Chief Secretary Farley Augustine has revealed that UK-based independent travel magazine Wanderlust will visit Tobago in December for an editorial piece on the island’s tourism destinations.
He said so in an interview on Tuesday at the 2023 World Travel Market (WTM), ExCel London exhibition and convention centre, United Kingdom. The event ended on Wednesday.
A video of Augustine’s interview was posted on the Office of the Chief Secretary’s (OCS) Facebook page.
Last year, Tobago was awarded a silver award for Most Desirable Island from Wanderlust Travel Magazine.
Wanderlust Travel Magazine’s editor-in-chief and CEO, George Kipourus, presented Augustine with the award at the close of WTM.
That award ceremony took place at the Tower of London, one of England’s most prominent historical sites.
Wanderlust is one of the UK’s leading independent travel magazines. Each issue highlights exciting destinations and experiences off the beaten path.
Regarding Wanderlust’s upcoming visit, Augustine said, “We won their award last year, and Wanderlust is coming to Tobago in December, who will then do an editorial piece, and then Tobago will also be ranked for the Wanderlust viewers.”
He said Tobago’s involvement at the WTM can never be overstated.
“There is value in the WTM experience for the Tobago tourism product. As a matter of fact, given that we are so small, our bite of the cherry is so tiny.
“Our numbers have not been where it was in the early 2000s for a very long while. So Tobago needs to show up in an impressive way to trade shows like this for Tobago to say we are still in the game,” Augustine said.
He said Tobago was competing against other islands that are spending two and three times its amount on marketing.
“Tobago has not made that kind of investment in a while, perhaps simply because the resources might not have always been there.”
Augustine said the WTM provided an opportunity to meet with industry insiders.
“If we are to have these meetings in isolation of each other, it would be billions of dollars.”
He said he met with ministers of tourism, other government ministers, British Airways and Wanderlust.
Augustine said the delegation also had meetings with British High Commissioner Harriet Cross, tourism representatives from Guyana and the Caribbean Council, an investment outpost in the UK.
“So imagine having to have all of these meetings all over the place, one at a time, that’s millions (of dollars). WTM provides an opportunity that we could meet with everybody in one space.”
Augustine said the delegation was engaged in no fewer than 50 engagements “because we have to split up at times to get the meetings out and the negotiations through.
“We are talking about tour guides, operators, other airlines. So, it is a lot of work but it is absolutely critical for Tobago to be here in such an impressive way.”
Meanwhile, a lively cultural presentation showcasing various elements of Tobago’s heritage culminated the WTM on Wednesday.
Augustine had led a delegation to the prestigious, international trade show, which included Secretary of Tourism, Culture, Antiquities and Transportation Tashia Burris, Tobago Performing Arts Company (TPAC) artistic director Rayshawn Pierre-Kerr, Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd officials and other tourism stakeholders.
Under the banner, Tobago Beyond, the island’s cultural practitioners treated the delegates to a mix of calypso, soca, dance, pan and drumming.
Videos posted on the OCS Facebook page showed them singing and dancing during Leah-Sophia Richards’ performance.
Early in her presentation, she sang Colin Lucas’ Dollar Wine, Shadow’s Dingolay and Calypso Rose’s Fire, Fire, among others.
She later livened up the tempo with Olatunji Yearwood’s popular Engine Room and Blaxx’s Same Way.
Burris led a conga line during Richards’ performance of Nadia Batson’s Market.
Members of TPAC also performed several traditional dances to the delight of the audience.
Towards the end of the cultural presentation, arranger Ojay Richards played Come Leh We Go (To Tobago) on the steel pan.
Delegates were later urged to visit Tobago for its 2024 carnival from October 25-27.