Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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THTA president: Tobago tourism needs more marketing dollars
The Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA) would like to see more marketing dollars allocated to help promote the island as a tourism destination, president Chris James told the T&T Guardian yesterday. Commenting on the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) 2015 Budget presented by Finance Secretary Joel Jack on Monday, James said: “All areas were covered and of course we would like more marketing dollars, but until we increase our quality room stock I understand the limitations.
“I believe we have to keep focused so that we get more year-round airlift. The tourism industry has to plan well in advance so we need marketing budgets 12 months in advance with contingencies for tactical campaigns. We need a strong branding-and-awareness campaign. We are also embarking on additional customer service training, so our aims are clear, tourism can be a great asset to T&T’s economy.”
Jack presented a $5.6 billion budget which included overall recurrent estimates of $3.13 billion, an increase of $163.86 million over the fiscal 2014 request to the Central Government and $1.31 billion over last year’s revised estimates. James said: “Several initiatives, including support for smaller properties, marketing, infrastructure improvements, along with the Central Government’s initiatives such as the government loan guarantee, should assist in getting tourism in Tobago back on the international map.”
James said the THTA continues to work closely and collaborate with the THA with monthly stakeholder meetings, “making sure our views are heard and taken into account.” “Tourism was and can be again a major economic driver for Tobago and by extension T&T, the retention of the tourism dollar within T&T is over 70 cents in every dollar spent, so in terms of direct and indirect employment the potential is enormous.”
James said the THTA is happy with the focus the THA places on tourism and acknowledges the “competitive industry they operate in. “Tobago’s tourism needs continued branding and marketing which are all addressed in the budget. The allocation for airlift marketing support is critical to allow us compete in a very competitive industry.”