Tourism stakeholders welcome CAL’s Barbados to Tobago flight

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

There was a modest turnout of beachgoers at Store Bay Beach, Crown Point, on Saturday. – Photo by David Reid

Tourism stakeholders in Tobago are welcoming Caribbean Airlines’s (CAL) introduction of non-stop flights between Barbados and Tobago effective May 8.

The airline made the announcement via a media release on Wednesday. It said the addition of this new service is aligned to its mandate to improve regional connectivity and to support the development of multi-destination tourism.

CAL said it is also working with stakeholders on both islands to stimulate leisure travel and special promotions will be shared with customers in the coming weeks.

CAL CEO Garvin Medera said, “The introduction of this non-stop service between Tobago and Barbados will be another choice for travellers to connect to various transatlantic markets. As we continue to reignite our customers passion for travel, this flight will facilitate easy connectivity for visitors to explore multiple destinations in the region.

“Multi-destination tourism offers each country the opportunity to maximum output from its tourism investments and related activities. As we work with our stakeholders to rebuild Caribbean travel, the airline will provide, as best as we can, convenient connections throughout the region and beyond.”

President of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA) Chris James told Newsday that the association is satisfied with the announcement.

“The Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association is very pleased with the resumption of the JFK (New York) to Tobago flight and now the new Barbados flight to Tobago. This will not only increase our international connectivity but also our regional connectivity, which we lost during the period when we lost Liat (airlines). So we’re very pleased about this and we look forward to the Toronto flight, from Caribbean Airlines, to Tobago.”

Executive director of Ted’s Sunshine Tours Ltd Ted Greig welcomed the announcement saying it has been long in coming.

“The discussions and recommendations for this to happen have been going on for quite some time now.”

He sees Barbados as a hub to get to Tobago for those who are interested.

“You have a number of international airlines going into Barbados on a daily basis…

“We suggested that if they put a flight coming out of Barbados directly into Tobago, Barbados can be like a hub. If we have our national airline coming out of Barbados into Tobago that can pick up some of those passengers who wants to come to Tobago, they have an option to do that once we have that airlift out of Barbados into Tobago.”

In a WhatsApp response on Wednesday, Tobago Business Chamber chairman Martin George said anything which increases connectivity between Tobago and the rest of the world is positive, but he expressed scepticism about this venture.

“One wonders if this is part of some strategic marketing plan by the Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd to specifically target travellers from Barbados or if it is just a knee-jerk reaction as it was with so many other destinations where CAL ventured into, without the proper market research and the empirical data to show that this venture could be profitable.”

George said he awaits the market facts and statistical data which prompted this decision, especially in light of the Chief Secretary still calling for more flights between Trinidad and Tobago and in light of the fact that the last flight to Tobago is still as early as 8.30pm.

“So it may be a case of scarce resources being diverted away from the Trinidad-Tobago airbridge to service a Tobago-Barbados route, for which I have hitherto seen or heard no public outcry, nor has there seemed to be any demonstrated demand.”

He said in light of CAL’s previous statement that it needed Cabinet’s or the Ministry of Finance’s permission to put on extra flights to Tobago, he would like to see the Cabinet note confirming this decision and the reasons for this route.