Tobago hoteliers: Berlin trade show a success

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Grafton Beach Resort’s executive director Nalini Galbaransingh, left, TTAL’s German representative Angelika Wegner, and a guest chat at the Tobago booth. – Photo courtesy THA

TOBAGO tourism stakeholders have hailed the Internationale Tourismus-Borse (ITB) travel trade show in Berlin, Germany, as a success.

THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine led a Tobago delegation to the two-day event, which was held from March 7-9.

The delegation included Secretary of Tourism, Culture, Antiquities and Transportation Tashia Burris, Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd executive chairman Alicia Edwards and several accommodation providers from within the sector.

In a video released on Friday by the Office of the Chief Secretary, Maria Yip-John, general manager, Comfort Inn & Suites, said, “It has actually been extremely positive, which is very good for us. Being a new hotel, just seven months old, these connections are very important for us.”

She said Tobago’s stakeholders met a lot of tour operators in Germany.

“When they came around they wanted to speak to as many accommodation units as possible because of course, we have the Condor flight and they want to sell as many seats on the flight.”

Alpha Lorde, general manager, Mt Irvine Bay Resort, said they were able to reconnect with old partners and make new ones at the ITB.

“Those negotiations have been going very good so far,” he said, adding certain details must be worked out before contracts are exchanged.

“But I expect to result in an improvement in the German market coming to Tobago.”

Nalini Galbaransingh, executive director, Grafton Beach Resort and Le Grand Courland Spa, said stakeholders are looking to the future with great optimism.

“It’s been really positive, post pandemic,” she said of the ITB.

“Everybody is eager to get back out and support their destinations, support their properties and spread the word about Tobago. It’s been really positive. The feedback has been great.”

Like Lorde, Galbaransingh said they were glad to reconnect with old partners.

“It’s wonderful to see tour operators, faces that we have not seen face to face for the last few years and then making contact with new operators.”

She believes there has been a shift in the market “and we are trying to take advantage of that so it has been exciting.

Tourism secretary Burris said while the feedback on the island has been generally positive, European operators also highlighted areas in which Tobago can improve its product.

She said, “They have all said very positive things about Tobago and I take that as a heartening situation. They have been very open as to why they love Tobago in spite of the challenges that have occurred since covid19.

“They have indicated to us, very plainly in some instances, some of the improvements that we have to make in terms of our product offerings, in terms of our accommodations, in terms of the packages that they offer because they say there is a market of persons that are very interested in visiting the destination and it is just for us to ensure that the Tobago House of Assembly, the tourism agency, work together with our stakeholders so that we are prepared now for that influx of international visitors.”

Describing the ITB as insightful, Burris said it gave her a clearer understanding about what tourists are looking for in a destination.