Tobago hoteliers: No boost in business from Commonwealth Games

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

FILE PHOTO: Comfort Inn & Suites in Scarborough is one of the hotels accommodating athletes for the upcoming Commonwealth Youth Games. – David Reid

TOBAGO Hotel and Tourism Association president Alpha Lorde said hoteliers and guesthouse operators have not reported a significant increase in tourist arrivals as a result of the upcoming Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago.

The youth games, the first of its kind in the region, begins on August 4 with an opening ceremony at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain. But the Tobago leg of the tournament kicks off on August 5 with beach volleyball in Black Rock.

Apart from volleyball, the island will also host the triathlon, rugby sevens and fast five netball competitions at various locations. The closing ceremony is on August 11 at the Pigeon Point Beach Facility.

In Tobago, the majority of the athletes will be staying at the Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort, Lowlands; Mt Irvine Bay Resort; and Comfort Inn & Suites, Scarborough.

Lorde, general manager of Mt Irvine Bay Resort, said the hotel is hosting athletes from several countries, including St Kitts/Nevis, Namibia, Zambia, New Zealand, Bahamas, and Barbados, among others. He said athletes began arriving on July 31.

He told Newsday, “There has not been a marked increase in arrivals and as a result, the natural dispersion of the other guests who would have stayed in these properties, other properties are benefitting from. But to say that we have had a marked increase in arrivals directly associated with the games – No.”

He said while people have come to the island for the games, “You cannot necessarily attribute that.

“We are seeing a 15, 20 per cent increase in occupancy over last year or any other comparable August and directly attribute that to the games. You can’t.”

But Lorde predicted there might be an increase in occupancy levels as the tournaments draw closer.

“You also have the disciplines of sport that are here for the games – beach volleyball, rugby, triathlon. So I think as we get closer to the execution of those individual sports, we will see some uptick with some parents coming in to see their kids participate.

“But at this moment, I think we are a couple percentage points higher than last year’s August so that would indicate that we have not seen a significant or marked increase in occupancy.”

A source told Newsday the island’s occupancy rate stands at around 65 per cent “for normal summer (July-August) tourism because there are still concerns about the air bridge, specifically the lack of flights.

“Sixty-five per cent is the best that one may get. However, they are expecting 1,500 people this weekend with these games,” the source added.