Trinidad and Tobago has a strong historical connect to India, dating back to the days when Indians were shipped to work in British farms. Deep assimilation of ‘Indianness’, serene beaches and nightlife and unadulterated nature are some components that T&T tourism wants to leverage on. Currently, much of Indian outbound remains dominated by honeymooners and holidayers who extend their USA vacation to Caribbean shores. An interview with Huzan Fraser Motivala, India Representative for Tourism, Trinidad and Tobago
What are some key facets of tourism products in T&T. What are their USP? Culture, cuisines, beautiful resorts are some that come to mind.
The twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago is a unique and true Caribbean paradise boasting of a heady mix of cultural activities, eco-adventure and culinary delights. From relaxing on palm tree-lined white sandy beaches, to swimming in aquamarine clear waters, from the picturesque Maracas Beach to enjoying the greatest show on Earth, the Carnival, T&T invites you to experience a destination where thrill meets tranquility! Trinidad and Tobago is indeed a paradise with their lush forests and nature reserves, rare tree frogs, pristine corals, unforgettable hiking and exotic birds. The twin-islands are a one-of-a-kind island escape and offer a traveller to experience the True Caribbean.
How has been tourism unfolding in the recent past? What are some of your key source markets? Where does India figure in the list?
Tourism Trinidad & Tobago has made a substantial investment in the Indian market through its trade initiative. We have been working with the travel trade across the major metros in India to promote the destination through sales calls, training programmes and seminars as well as familiarization trips for travel agents and joint marketing campaigns with leading tour operators.
The key source markets for Trinidad & Tobago are North America and the United Kingdom. India is a niche market for this twin-island destination, but we are seeing steady growth of over 10% year-on-year from India to Trinidad & Tobago.
What makes the larger tourism connect between India and T&T. how is the movement of people happening?
Indian visitors to Trinidad & Tobago are a mix of business and leisure tourists. Leisure travelers to Trinidad & Tobago are generally from the honeymoon segment, and we also see Indians visiting Trinidad & Tobago as an extension to holiday packages to the U.S.A and Canada.
How do you plan to increase your visibility in the Indian market? What is the kind of positioning you wish to acquire among the Indian outbound? Given long-flying hours, I presume much of the movement, currently, happens in the leisure segment?
Trinidad and Tobago is still a niche and relatively new destination in the Indian market and therefore, our main focus is on creating awareness and knowledge of this twin island destination among Indian travellers and the travel trade. We are focusing on positioning T&T as a destination for honeymoons, eco-tourism, adventure etc. The honeymoon segment is one in which we expect to see an increase of demand and bookings. Film tourism is another growing segment with filmmakers and producers keen to showcase unique destination in their films. Sports tourism is another key segment in which we see tremendous potential in 2016, especially with the Shahrukh Khan owned cricket team Trinbago Knight Riders participating in the Caribbean Premier League and the upcoming Indian team cricket tour of the West Indies.
Tourism Trinidad & Tobago will work with renowned cricketers from Trinidad & Tobago such as Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Sunil Narine and Brian Lara to promote the tourism messages of Trinidad and Tobago in the Indian market and create greater awareness of Trinidad & Tobago as a destination and its products and attractions among the Indian media and consumers. The travel trade is also a key component of our marketing strategy for the Indian market. We have been working with the travel trade across the major metros in India to promote the destination through sales calls, training programmes and seminars as well as familiarisation trips and joint marketing campaigns. We will continue these efforts in 2015 as well. Additionally this year, we also plan to hold a road show for the travel trade in Delhi and Mumbai with suppliers from Trinidad & Tobago attending.
How will you cash in on historic ties between two nations, especially when you have a decent numbers of PIOs living in T&T?
40% of the population in Trinidad & Tobago is of Indian-origin. This has had a significant impact on the culture of Trinidad & Tobago. The contribution of the Indian diaspora in Trinidad & Tobago is evident in the rich inheritance of dance, music, art, cuisine and festivals. For instance, the festivals of Diwali and Holi are widely celebrated. There are two hallmarks of Indian cuisine that can be found anywhere on the island – roti and doubles. Doubles is the unofficial national breakfast, with many Trinidadians starting their day with two or three of these palm-size flour and split peas (yellow lentils) patties filled with spicy channa (chickpeas) and topped with different relishes.
One of the more famous religious sites in Trinidad, the richly decorated Hanuman Murti is a potent icon of Trinidad’s Indian community. The only Southern Indian–style temple in the western hemisphere, the statue is an incredible sight to see against the backdrop of the Caribbean blue sky. The Temple in the Sea at Waterloo, Trinidad is a floating marvel in the midst of the Caribbean Sea. Surrounded by the serene blue waters, this awe-inspiring temple with its lovely dome and stately bridge is a monument to the hard-work and devotion of one simple Indian man. We will work to promote these close cultural links between India and Trinidad & Tobago to potential Indian travellers to drive their interest in visiting the destination.
How will you by-pass the ordeal of an in-direct connectivity? Is there a plan for better air-connection in the coming months?
British Airways to London Heathrow (LHR) and onwards to New York (NYC)/Miami (MIA) offer excellent connections from Mumbai/Delhi and onwards on Caribbean Airlines from NYC to Port of Spain (POS) and American Airlines from MIA to POS. Jet Airways, Air India, Lufthansa have flights from Mumbai & Delhi to Newark (EWR)/Toronto (YYZ) with onward connections with Caribbean Airlines onwards to Port of Spain (POS). Emirates Airlines operate 1 flight daily to London Gatwick (Gatwick) and onwards, travelers can fly Caribbean Airlines from Gatwick to Port of Spain.