Travel Agent recently sat down with Avion Hercules, director of marketing for the Tobago House of Assembly, to discuss the destination’s new marketing initiatives.
Tobago, the smaller half of Trinidad and Tobago, is looking to reintroduce itself to the United States travel market and making an outreach to boost awareness of the destination with a new logo, slogan and tourism initiatives.
Hercules recently blitzed New York City meeting with the media and with agents in her first effort to promote this highly regarded eco-tourism destination.
Hercules said during this initial phase of Tobago’s market outreach in North America her purpose was exploratory and that she was mainly looking to collect feedback from operators and agents on their perceptions of Tobago.
The new slogan, "Live the Culture, Tobago Style," is a reflection of the island’s quirky, rather British charm and is a reflection of what is unique about the island.
This is where you will find laid-back life in classic Caribbean style that is far off the beaten track. Unlike neighboring islands with their brand name all-inclusive resorts, here you may head to the beautiful, secluded coves of the north coast and the unspoiled eastern side of the island, where you will find its award winning tropical rain forest that has been a protected park since 1776,1950s chemists’ shops in Scarborough and iced-coconut stands around the island. This is where you leave the crowds and carnivals behind in favor of tree-house restaurants and champagne at sunset.
Hercules shared that Tobago welcomed 400,000 air and cruise arrivals in 2013, the bulk of whom were from Europe. However, air connectivity from the U.S. has improved with Caribbean Airlines’ daily flight from John F. Kenndey International Airport in New York, American Airline's daily flights from Miami and Fort Lauderdale. What this means is that U.S. visitors can now reach Tobago in a day without having to overnight in Trinidad.
"We are in some discussion with a couple of airlines to get into Tobago from the U.S. and also from Canada," she told Travel Agent, noting that Tobago's number one international market is the United Kingdom.
As far a hotel product goes, Hercules says, "We are anticipating more properties to come on stream. We are looking at investors and currently in discussions with a few known hotel chains. By the beginning of the winter, we should have some things finalized."
Hercules says romance is always a popular niche on the island while eco-tourism and adventure are also two hot tickets on the island. Of the adventure travel offerings, Hercules says the destination's new nighttime paddle boarding offerings is among the most popular.
Tourism represents 47 percent of Tobago’s Gross Domestic Product and is the second highest employer on the island.
“Tobago is a multi-ethnic racial and multi-religious society where the races co-exist in harmony and celebrates the nation’s rich cosmopolitan heritage," she says. "This is an island of year-round festivals, dive sites, wedding venues, eco-adventure programs and locals who are anxious to interact with visitors. We have 3,000 guestrooms, of which 1,500 have been inspected and approved and the rest are in the process of being upgraded. We have 25 luxury villas, shore access everywhere”.