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Tobago seeks bigger boost from tourism
Tourism is an important driver of Tobago’s economy and will continue to be paramount in the transformation of the island, Secretary of Tourism and Transportation Assemblyman Tracy Davidson-Celestine has said. She added that all signs suggested the industry was once again gaining ground.
Davidson-Celestine, who presented a motion on tourism at a recent plenary sitting of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), said the World Travel and Tourism Council in 2009 revealed that Tobago’s GDP was estimated at $3.153 billion and of that amount tourism’s contribution was $1.164 billion or 36.9 per cent. The sector created 14,000 jobs representing 47.6 per cent of the island’s population. She said regionally, tourism accounted for an injection of over US$20 billion into Caribbean economies.
“So that one can easily see the magnitude of this industry and its importance to our Caribbean counterparts and in particular Tobago,” she said
Davidson-Celestine cited Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s (CTO) statistics which showed that in 2012 the region welcomed nearly 25 million tourists—growth of approximately 5.4 per cent over 2011. Last year, Tobago welcomed 962,883 visitors, an overall increase of 4.3 per cent, which compared favourably with other Caribbean countries.
The Dutch Caribbean received 5.6 per cent, while the Spanish-speaking Caribbean six per cent. The Tourism Secretary said even with these encouraging signs, Tobago is still hard-pressed to recover as it relies heavily on the British market and its onerous air passenger duty tax.
She said the THA has begun to target new areas, such as the Scandinavian countries, Canada and the US. She noted that Americans were coming back to the Caribbean and despite the world economic slowdown, Canadians are continuing to travel. As such the signs are positive for an even stronger growth in the coming years.
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