Save Tobago from tourism fakes
TOBAGO tourism is like a fake Picasso: A $50 million painting is worthless without a signature. Tobago has great potential, but no distinguishing "signature'' of monitised value exists because it is an "also ran'' in the tourism "goat'' race, so any "fake'' will do.
This is instructive and is but a simple example of faking it... I ordered a Caribbean Daiquari in Tobago. It was evidently made with processed (fake) ingredients. Here's my point... Any tourist can get a processed experience in the concrete jungle from which they escaped. What the hell! Tobago's clean, green and serene natural paradise is a processed fake? Damn, says the tourist, they lied to me!
Just "Google'' Tobago as a destination, read "Tripadvisor'' and other sites that have tourist comments, and the critical judgement on Tobago's fakes is posted with clarity for the world to see.
There are dedicated and passionate Tobagonians who deliver a genuine experience, but many are counterfeit traders, especially some lazy Trinidadian hoteliers who cry for help but are absent at their business (e.g. tourist asks for the manager to solve her problem. Desk clerk replies that the manager is in Trinidad. Tourist asks who will help her? The clerk answers with a sad reality, Miss Tourist, I'm so sorry, nobody can).
The fact is that customer service and pride in quality of product in Tobago is a foreign concept! We market to attract quality visitors with a larger wallet spend, but frustrate them when they are robbed of their paradise vacation promised by the same consultants we pay to shape the vacation experience.
T&T tourism will fail if we continue to follow the scattershot, same old, same old broad-scope marketing. Such marketing attempts to pull customers to T&T. It won't work because T&T's tourism attraction assets (pull forces) are weak in the flooded international world of competition. Therefore, a push strategy is recommended. Direct marketing through travel agents/tour operator partners can hard sell directly to a qualified buyer, rather than millions of dollars in fancy advertising lost in translation amongst billions of dollars of competing destinations.
Cuba climbed from a nobody destination in the Caribbean to 2.5 million visitors annually in less than two decades, with little "Lala land'' advertising and heavy win/win tour operator contracts.
Memo to the Ministry of Tourism: Change the dumb and useless marketing model of spending more money in marketing/advertising because it has failed, and will fail again!
Hire a business consultant in tourism, not a tourism consultant in business. Hire an aggressive sales-driven organisation with a track record in generating business, not creating Power Point promises. Tobagonians are in desperate need of sales revenue to save their businesses now! So, hire salesmen, not consulting paper pushers.
Downsize and re-structure the TDC from a non-performing PNM model that effectively does nothing but spend money and visit conferences around the world, to a focused sales and marketing driven work horse.
Without the Tobago House of Assembly London bridge that killed Tobago tourism, without the speculators of Trini fast buck smartmen, given the opportunity, funding, and platform, Tobago can rise to the 'TOP' in tourism. The assets of Tobago are not only its clean, green and serene environment, but its beautiful unspoilt people where a tourist feels welcomed by villages of friends, not cities manned by commercial representatives. "Friendly Cuba"... won Cuba its success.
Kudos to the Minister of Tourism for cancelling the concretising of Maracas. Keeping Maracas Bay as natural and pristine as possible is "Caribbean'', not Cancun concrete.