Tobago hotels 90% booked for carnival

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association vice president Carol-Ann Birchwood-James

Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association vice president Carol Ann Birchwood-James claims the accommodation sector is almost fully booked for the island’s inaugural Carnival from October 28 to 30.

“We look as if we are about 90 per cent full,” she told Newsday on Wednesday. “But the association has asked its members who are not yet fully booked to let us know. A few of them have come forward and we should get a better list by Thursday.”

In addition, Birchwood-James said people who are having difficulty to get accommodation should contact the association so they can get a list of names and numbers for hotels, guesthouses and villas that are not yet fully booked. “But for now it looks as if we are 90 per cent full.”

After two and a half years of the covid19 pandemic, Birchwood-James is greateful for the uptick in arrivals for the carnival.

“Tobago needs to make some money for the few days.” She said she has always supported the idea to host a carnival in October. “I found the decision to have the carnival to be a very good one, because you need events for you to fuel your tourism so that people can come. Besides sun, sea and sand, which is always very relevant, you need to have other things to attract people and the carnival with its unique mud mas and all of the other unique heritage things that we have, I think it was a very good idea.”

Birchwood-James recalled when the idea of an October carnival was first proposed several years ago, tourism stakeholders welcomed the plan. But she said the chief secretary at the time was not fond of the idea as he felt the event would have disrupted the school term. “I think in this carnival they have taken that into consideration and therefore there are no children activities. So that takes care of that concern.”

Birchwood-James said although she has not looked carefully at the itinerary, there appears to be a good mix of events, all-inclusive parties, cooler fetes, concerts and boat rides, in different parts of the island. “Anything that could bring people to Tobago with clean, safe enjoyment, I am recommending 100 per cent.” Birchwood-James said the major challenge is getting transport from Trinidad to Tobago.

Last Friday, the TT Inter-Island Transportation Company Ltd announced 12 additional sailings for the Carnival period. Schedules were announced for the APT James, Buccoo Reef and Galleon’s Passage. These sailings are almost completely booked already.

On September 27, THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine said in a television interview that he had held discussions with the Caribbean Airlines CEO to increase the number of flights to Tobago for carnival. In the interview, he said people were cancelling bookings because they were unable to get flights. Augustine said efficient, interisland transportation was challenging even before the pandemic.

“We are trying to work out with them ways of increasing the flight load because those in the accommodation sector are saying people are cancelling bookings because they just can’t come due to the unavailability of flights.”