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Hotelier calls for more marketing of T&T
T&T’s rich culture and beautiful landscape makes it an attractive tourist destination but president of the Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Association, Hassel Thom, says Government needs to do more to market the country. Since the bulk of tourism dollars are derived from the Carnival season, most hotels experience a drought during the off-peak season, Thom said.
“Hotels suffer simply because a lot more needs to be done by the Government to ensure that the destination is marketed. Marketing the destination Trinidad and Tobago cannot be the responsibility of any private sector organisation or any company, it’s just not feasible,” he told the T&T Guardian..
In an interview following Cara Suite's Hotel and Conference Centre's employee awards at Claxton Bay, Thom, general manager of the hotel, said beside the various embassies, there are people contracted to promote T&T in Asia, USA and Europe but several stumbling blocks hindering this process need to be dealt with.
Thom said crime and travel advisories from the US and UKs have caused a reluctance on the park of potential visitors. It is necessary to address these setbacks, he said , because tourism can rival oil and gas revenues and contribute to T&T’s Gross Domestic Product. “Outside of oil and gas, tourism is the strongest foreign exchange earner because we operate in US dollars. Once T&T gets on the map in terms of a Caribbean perspective, T&T has one of the most complex product.
“If it is marketed strategically and creatively, the only island in the Caribbean that can rival T&T is Jamaica. However, when it comes to culture and culinary, T&T is unrivaled. People just do not know about it, but it is unrivaled," he said. “I think slowly but surely, we are going to start realising that oil can only do so much for your GDP. Yes it brings in a high revenue. However, when you look at employment, the energy sector only employs five per cent of our employable population.
Tourism employs 15 per cent directly and directly means that people are working in the industry, in the properties, restaurants and in all of the service sectors. We haven’t even started to talk about the taxi drivers, the farmers and the fishermen who help this industry go forward.”
Thom said Cara Suites have been able to withstand the seasonal tourism drought because it is strategically located between the Point Lisas Industrial Estate and Petrotrin's Point-a-Pierre refinery. He said the hotel’s main clientele are businessmen and expatriates and they also cater for seminars hosted by energy companies. He said that although the energy sector operates year-round, whenever Point Lisas goes quiet, they also feel the pinch.
Thom said is now seeking to attract more families and sporting groups. He said hotels in north Trinidad are being booked on weekends by locals, but for people who want to get out of the hustle and bustle of Port-of-Spain, Cara Suites, which overlooks the Gulf of Paria, is an ideal location.