A Riot of Colour and Noise

Last week we hosted a couple of coaches from the Dominican Republic(DR) who were here for the Caribbean Area International Schools SportsAssociation (CAISSA) boy’s Basketball and girl’s Soccer tournament.As I chatted with one of the coaches, I was surprised to learn that inthe DR, carnival type celebrations also took place in the month ofFebruary.   Of course, given the size of the population in DR itsounds like their celebrations may already be bigger than ours andthis tourism dependent territory is looking at ways to leverage theirfestival to attract more visitors.  Have you seen the YouTube clipcirculating of the carnival in Japan(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ij1vaV1N8P8)?  We in Trinidad andTobago should not take our carnival for granted.I have been racking up some frequent flyer miles recently.  So much sothat I think that I now know parts of the American Airlines welcomevideo by heart.  What struck me most about it however is that partwhere they say – “thank you for choosing to fly with us…we know thatyou have a choice when it comes to air travel…we appreciate yourbusiness”.  Yes our carnival is unique and special and wonderful, butevery competing destination is just as convinced as we are.  We needto raise our game.A friend of mine put a link on my wall on Facebook.  It was a link toa blog from someone called Trinimummy entitled “right now I feelreally distressed about the tourism industry”.  Feel free to Google itbut with Trinimummy’s permission, here is her comment –“Right now I am distressed!  I volunteered to go to TDC to get sometour information for a friend of mine.  When I go I am given abrochure from T&TITOA Trinidad & Tobago Incoming Tour OperatorsAssociation. I ask the receptionist if this information is on TDC’ssite?? She says yes but NOT the corporate site use –www.gotrinidadandtobago.com Needless to say when I go there, I can’tfind what I am looking for since the operators link takes me back tothe HOME PAGE … I must say the lobby of the TDC office looks beautifultho! …Silly me decided to then go to the sites in the brochure.  Halfof them were no longer up and the other half well…SO I decided to go to the association site.http://ttitoa.com/MembersList.html I feel a little better, the list isthere and the sites there are mostly working… we can do better?!”This type of online commentary we can ill afford.  Nevertheless,Trinimummy and the many other stakeholders who were feeling distressedabout the downward spiral of our tourism industry are feeling a littlemore hopeful these days.  It is understood that the newly installedBoard of Directors at our Tourism Development Company Ltd (TDC) hasagreed that ‘business as usual’ was not a serious option and are inthe process of restructuring the organization to enable it to face thechallenges that seem to have been getting the better of us.  ChairmanGeorge Stanley Beard is showing just how serious he is about turningaround our industry.  We wish Beard and his team all the best.To end on a positive note, another link to make it to my Facebook wallrecently was a write up on our carnival in the influential TravelWeekly trade magazine by one of the journalists who I believe werehosted by the TDC in 2010.  Joanna Booth wrote –“Disregard Rio and let there be no mention of New Orleans. Ask anyislander where the real Carnival happens, and they’ll tell you thatit’s right here in one of the Caribbean’s southernmost islands.There’s nothing quite like being in Port of Spain for this captivatingriot of colour and noise. The country goes into unofficial shutdownover Carnival, because no one wants to miss the party – andTrinidadians know better than most how to throw a party.” Federal Tax SingaporeThe article goes on to suggest that travel agents – “Sell TrinidadCarnival to clients who love the Caribbean and love letting their hairdown. It’s the ultimate trophy trip – one for list-makers to tickoff… Whether clients play or watch, it’s an awesome spectacle,utterly infectious fun, and a definite contender for the ‘Best Show onEarth’ title.”My name is Derren Joseph and I love my country.   As always, I end bysaying that despite our challenges, we are so blessed to live in thisbeautiful land.  Let us continue to have the audacity of hope in thefuture of our beloved country.Derren is a travel and tourism consultant.  The views and opinionsexpressed here are solely the views of the writer and do notnecessarily reflect the views of any company or institution affiliatedwith the writer.

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