Tobago, the smaller, quieter and less
visible half of the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, is
about to emerge from its shell, thanks in part to a fast ferry and
the first nonstop air link with a U.S. gateway.
In fact, both the
ferry service and the airlift are at the crux of Tobago's new
promotional and marketing campaign, launched by tourism officials
on recent visits to Washington and New York timed to coincide with
the 45th anniversary celebrations of Trinidad and Tobago's
"Tobago is taking a
big step forward in the tourism arena," said Neil Wilson, secretary
of tourism and transportation. "We can already measure some of the
positive impact of Delta's new service by the reports of
reservations on the books."
Delta will debut
its Saturday roundtrip flight from Atlanta to Tobago's Crown Point
Airport on Dec. 15, which will complement its four weekly flights
between Atlanta and Port of Spain, Trinidad, that began last
"The service will
decrease our dependence on the U.K. and European markets," Wilson
said. "The flight taps into the U.S. market for the first time, and
we intend to capitalize on this."
Of Tobago's 70,000
international visitor arrivals last year (the figure does not
include Trinidadian nationals), more than 70% were from the
U.S. visitors to
Tobago arrived via connecting flights in Trinidad, Barbados and
other Caribbean islands.
In line with
Delta's new service is the expansion project at the Crown Point
Terminal building at the Crown Point Airport, seven miles from the
capital of Scarborough.
The project, which
will be completed in two years or less, includes additional gates
and new ramp areas to handle three additional wide-body
Where Tobago has
seen "enormous" growth, according to Wilson, is in its domestic
tourism market out of Trinidad, its biggest market.
"We have quadrupled
our numbers from 200,000 visitors in 2006 to what we expect will be
close to 800,000 arrivals this year," Wilson said.
He attributed much
of that increase to the introduction of the T&T Express, the
first craft in the fast ferry fleet, which began service earlier
this year. A second ferry, the T&T Spirit, was added in
Each of the
300-foot, $46.5 million catamarans can accommodate up to 800
passengers and 180 vehicles, travels at speeds of up to 45 mph and
makes the crossing between Trinidad and Tobago in less than three
hours, down from the previous seven hours on the older and smaller
"The fares are
reasonable, about $10 each way, and each ferry does one roundtrip a
day but can double up, if necessary," Wilson said.
sector, where the current inventory stands at approximately 5,500
rooms in all categories and the average year-round occupancy at
70%, is dominated by smaller properties.
"We have about 400
new rooms per year coming on line, but we need a better mix of
high-end and low-end properties," Wilson said.
The island has not
opened a single branded property since the 144-room Hilton Tobago
Golf & Spa Resort in 2000. However, negotiations are in the
works for a brand-name property to begin construction shortly,
according to Wilson.
Cruise traffic has
not impacted Tobago noticeably. The island has received 44 calls
thus far this year vs. 27 in 2006 but still a far cry from the 60
calls in 2005.
recently completed construction on a cruise ship jetty, "but it
takes from 18 months to two years to get on a ship's schedule,"
contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].