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Secretaries Answers to Questions


The Minority Leader asked the Secretary of Tourism, Culture,Antiquities and Transportation the following question:

     As it relates to the recommencement of ALL international flights to the ANR Robinson International Airport, can the Secretary of Tourism indicate the international passenger arrival figures, as well as the comparative performance for the airlines operating the route, for the period of January 1st to April 3 0th, 2022, as compared to the same period of 2019.

Councillor and Secretary of Tourism.

Culture, Antiquities and Transportation.

Madam Presiding Officer,thank you. Members, good afternoon.

      I take note of the Minority Leader’s persistence this afternoon in asking follow-up questions, so I hope that at the end of my answer, he is satisfied in his mind that I have answered him.

     As it relates to the recommencement of direct international flights to the ANR Robinson International Airport, there are two (2) airlines operating for the period January to April 2022. British Airways recommenced operations on January 10th, 2022 and Virgin Atlantic on 29thJanuary 2022.

     For the period January - April 2022, there were a total of over two thousand, three hundred and ninety-two (2,392) passenger arrivals to Tobago, which represented an eighty point eight percent (80.8%) decline in international passenger arrivals from the total of twelve thousand, four hundred and forty-five (12,445) for the same period in 2019. So please permit me to read into the record the break-down by month.

  • In January, 2019, we had three thousand, one hundred and twenty-nine (3,129) passengers. In 2022, we had four hundred (400);

  • In February, we had three thousand, six hundred and eighty-nine (3,689) passengers. For 2022, we had eight hundred and thirty-two (832);

  • In March, we had three thousand, two hundred and fifteen (3,215) passengers. For March 2022, we had six hundred and ten (610);

  • In April 2019, we had two thousand, four hundred and sixteen (2,416) passengers. In 2022, we had five hundred and fifty(550);

     British Airways was responsible for eighty point one percent (80.1%)percent of arrivals from January to April, 2022, with one thousand, nine hundred and sixteen (1,916) passengers. However, when compared to the same period in 2019, there was a forty-four point five percent (44.5%) decline in arrivals from three thousand, four hundred and fifty (3, 450).

  • In January 2019, British airways brought in six hundred and eight (680) passengers. In 2022, they brought in three hundred and ninety (390);

  • In February 2019, one thousand and fifty-three (1,053). In 2022, five hundred and ninety-eight (598);

  • In March 2019, nine hundred and twenty-seven (927) passengers. In 2022 - four hundred and fifty-five (45 5);

  • In April 2019, they brought in seven hundred and ninety (790) passengers and in 2022, four hundred and seventy-three (473);

     It must be noted that there is a vast difference in the time periods as the former period of 2019 was pre COVID-19, while the comparative period for 2022 at the immediate recovery months after our borders were closed for nearly two (2) years. During the January to April 2019 period, Tobago was also directly serviced by Condor, Sunwing and Caribbean Airlines, while Thomas Cooke operated from January to March 2019.

     It is also instructive to note, that during the period March 2020 to December 2021, when this Administration took office, marketing spends for the destination continued in spite of the fact that our borders were closed, and we were unable to receive any international flights or passengers.

     The then Board of Directors of the Tourism Agency, a Board that both Members of the Minority Council served on during the period 2018 to 2021,continued to rubber stamp the payment of marketing fees to international agencies for the entire period of lock down

     In the last year alone , total marketing spend was close to eight million TT dollars ($8mTT).

Numbers do not lie and it is clear to me that as the Secretary, that we are not presently seeing return on investments and these investments were done by the previous Administration.

        It is actually disheartening to know that these flights that are currently operating out of the United Kingdom (UK) are leaving almost on a weekly basis filled to capacity and the majority of passengers disembark in Antigua and Barbados.

      However, these marketing arrangements are currently being reviewed by the new Board, ably led by Ms. Alicia Edwards who I am certain will ensure that:

  1. Tobago sees an increase in direct airlift from international destinations, with a result of an increase in international passenger arrivals to Tobago.

  2. A review of our current contractual arrangements with these airlines is done to ensure that we are receiving value for money;and

  3. That we review and revamp our marketing efforts across all current and new source markets to ensure that ‘Brand Tobago’receives the attention that it deserves and we can begin to suddenly position ourselves in the minds of travellers as, 'the greatest little island on the Planet.'1

Madam Presiding Officer, I thank you. [Desk thumping]

6th Plenary Sitting Tobago House of Assembly 2021 - 2025 Session


26 May 2022
Supplemental question to the main question :
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