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Trinidad and Tobago Business Tourism

Trinidad and Tobago business tourism: Just a mirage?

Pierre Small  Feb 02, 2009

With the American and British economies officially in recession and at one of their worst periods in history, and US economists concerned about a Wall Street collapse, why would the government of Trinidad and Tobago think business and convention tourism is the way forward? They have claimed that business tourism is big business, however, what makes them think it's big business for Trinidad and Tobago? What responsible and recognized indicators are they using to establish and prove their claims? Is it just hollow talk and parochial analysis because they are incapable of making our tourism work? This strategy is highly illogical considering the international economic meltdown, which is getting worse day by day.

The fact remains, business and convention tourism is highly uncertain and volatile with the world economic situation, and it should not be the major strategic focus. It is naive for a country like Trinidad and Tobago, whose tourism for the most part is invisible to the international audience, to realistically contemplate a high-risk strategy like this. Business and convention tourism will also cost the nation an enormous amount of money whose returns are highly uncertain.

Consider the Summit of the Americas, the government should "honestly" question those Third World Nations who have hosted this event previously, whether or not it brought them any "real" results, as far as recognition, increased tourist arrivals or increased economic activity, compared to the debt they incurred. One would be astonished, but these events don't do what the tourism advisors claim it will do for the country. Fundamentally, this strategy is flawed and ill advised. Whoever is advising the government and pursuing this strategy is unrealistic and delusional, they also don't possess a profound grasp on the Trinidad and Tobago product, or the international market. This is only one of the many ill-advised strategies Trinidad and Tobago's tourism officials have been pursuing for a long time.

Over the years, the government/the Tourism Development Company (TDC) announced many other new initiatives and strategies, including, "applying the Dubai model in T&T, making us a financial hub, a shopping centre, an eco-adventure destination, targeting the Indian, Chinese and wealthy and affluent tourist," just to name a few more ill advised ventures. Did any of these initiatives produce the desired results? Did any of these even get off the ground? What about the venture into the World Cup, according to our tourism advisors, “that will thrust us to the forefront of leisure and business tourism from the international community.” Did it?

The Trinidad and Tobago government made claims that the country’s business tourism is increasing. However, this is subject to interpretation. The increased activity came as a result of the obvious "temporary" energy boom and the logical spin off from it, which is now coming to a painful end. Those business folks visiting the country and foreign experts advising the industry will now seek their next Third World targets to exploit for their dubious pitches, like the extravagant buildings Trinidad and Tobago has been duped into constructing.

Why is the rest of the Caribbean with significantly fewer resources so far ahead in tourism?

Trinidad and Tobago, naturally, is a potentially lucrative product that doesn't need to chase phantoms like it has been doing for many years. Get real Trinidad and Tobago, get real TDC. It would appear that decisions are not made on sound analysis and product merit, but rather on how the industry wants its image to be perceived, without considering it's long term ramifications. Trinidad and Tobago should not pretend to be bigger than it is by attempting to compete with countries that are far ahead. Be realistic, that is the way forward.

Trinidad and Tobago business tourism: Just a mirage?
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