Tobago Press Conference – World Travel Market 2019
Popping in for a few hours for my first day at the World Travel Market, it truly seemed apt to stop by the Tobago stand which was holding its press conference that afternoon. Fortunately for me there was a slight delay and so I arrived just in time. The delightful hospitality extended by Tobago during such time offered sandwiches, cream filled desserts with a ginger twist as well as sparkling wine and so I certainly felt as though I was in the right place!
Located in the middle of the Americas and Caribbean section of the South Gallery at the Excel Centre, there were peals of music that could be heard from the neighbouring Caribbean island’s stands, Antigua, Cuba and the Bahamas were all nearby, providing that mellow ambience. This conference was organised by the Tobago Tourism Agency and a musician playing drums warmed up the crowd on the Tobago stand prior to the start of the conference.
Nadine Rankin provided an introduction to the conference and the first speaker, Louis Lewis, CEO of the Tobago Tourism Agency. Louis mentioned that the Tobago Beyond brand launched last year, in 2018. Following such successful launch the number of impressions concerning Tobago had increased to over 70 million and therefore this year there would be that further emphasis placed on the product to create demand through marketing. It was therefore essential to ensure that the product delivered.
The use of particular colours in the branding for Tobago Beyond is one way in which Louis believes that the product can be delivered. The green depicts nature and the blue is the sea and so the intention is to capitalise on that in a sustainable way. Indeed, sustainability is a key feature for Tobago. There has been its involvement in initiatives such as the UNESCO Man and Biosphere programme. It is believed that such involvement will highlight Tobago’s natural environment which includes Main Ridge rainforest which is the largest rainforest in the western hemisphere. Over 230 bird species can also be found in Tobago as well as 7 different species of frogs.
Tobago is an island within the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago where more than 70% of the island is protected and the government put a trust in place to ensure its protection, explained Louis. In terms of history, Tobago has changed hands at least 32 times amongst Europeans: French, Dutch, British etc.
One of Louis’ aims for Tobago is to move towards Blue Flag endorsement for beaches of which there are 2 in mind being King’s Bay and Batteux Bay. There will also be that emphasis on the 42 different types of sand that can be found which include black, pink and white.
Nadine Stewart-Phillips as the Secretary of Tourism for Tobago, mentioned that attending the World Travel Market enables Tobago to share development as in fact the UK accounts for 50% of international arrivals. The belief is that the new brand has provided more visibility on social media but has also contributed to an increase in visitors overall. This has also been achieved through collaboration with airlines. As the tagline for Tobago’s branding is ‘unspoilt, untouched, undiscovered’ there is therefore that connection to being environmentally friendly.
Tobago has a vibrant culture and forthcoming events include the jazz festival as well as the blue food festival and sporting events. The island is therefore keen to illustrate that there is more to Tobago than just its pretty, unspoilt beaches.
Kelvin Charles as Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly also alluded to the idyllic nature of Tobago’s beaches with aqua seas and the largest recorded green coral in the world. He describes Tobago as a treasure which avoids the hustle and bustle.
Kelvin is the elected leader of Tobago and is in charge with protecting Tobago’s habitat and its rich biodiversity. He mentioned the necessity for Tobago to be sustainable, despite being a small island, to ensure that future generations are also able to enjoy such a natural environment.
This year, Tobago was involved in phasing out single use plastic and had worked on developing a feasible alternative.
Tobago had also partnered with Germany for the inaugural Caribbean climate change conference with the aim to encourage recycling and reduce plastic pollution.
For Tobago, being eco friendly is linked to returning to the purest and highest ethical standards. Indeed, the North-east of the island had been nominated as a UNESCO Man and Biosphere protected area. If successful, there would therefore be greater protection afforded to Tobago.
As a result of the increased focus on marketing, the new brand was shortlisted for the International Travel and Tourism Awards run by the World Travel Market London. In fact the ceremony takes place in the evening of 5 November 2019 and so I will certainly be tuning in to discover the winner!
The island is certainly receiving more recognition and is perhaps emerging from the shadows of its sister island Trinidad. Kelvin referenced that Marie Claire magazine mentioned that Tobago would be 2019’s hottest holiday destination to go off the grid and slow down! The conference ended with some entertainment with a singer playing uptempo reggae and soca songs which again served to highlight the many facets of visiting Tobago.
If Tobago is not as yet featuring on your travel list for 2020, I would certainly recommend considering a trip there.