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So much to do in T&T
Posted: Monday, May 23, 2011

By Derren Joseph
May 23, 2011

Last week, I was trying to get to Anguilla for a meeting, only to be told while transiting through Antigua that the Anguilla airport was closed. Apparently the air traffic controller was not feeling well that day. Thanks to LIAT's excellent customer service however, passengers were put up in a fairly decent hotel and treated to dinner. Thank you LIAT. The next morning we flew out to St Maarten, to catch the ferry across to Anguilla. While on board the ferry I looked around at the bankers from Barbados tapping away on their BlackBerry smartphones while the French tourists took lots of pictures, and then it struck me. What a resource we have in Trinidad with our inter island ferries and our Water Taxis! I look forward to seeing links on airline/tour operator/travel agency Web sites that allow incoming visitors to buy ferry/Water Taxi tickets while booking their flights/hotels. Those of us who use the local Water Taxi may take it for granted but for a visitor to our shores, that ride would be an amazing and memorable experience. The view alone is incredible. Added to which, our ferries are among the more modern boats in this part of the Caribbean, making for a much more comfortable experience than other islands.

This series of thoughts followed a conversation I had with a fellow Trini earlier in the week. He was adamant that in Trinidad "there isn't much to do". I asked about turtle watching—he said he saw them already and once was enough. Well, I tried a different angle—what about the revolution that is happening along Ariapita Avenue—he still was not impressed. At that point, I just gave up. As a friend from St Vincent pointed out to me, Trinidad is like the New York of the Caribbean. We know that our regional neighbours routinely visit us to shop on Queen Street for cloth or head east to explore Trincity Mall—the largest in this part of the Caribbean. For those who enjoy the liming, Ariapita Avenue is just getting busier with more spots opening up every month. Just recently, I noticed a Marble Slab Creamery on the east side of the avenue signaling that after reaching the western end at Levels, the entertainment spots appear poised to work their way eastwards to the Lapeyrouse Cemetery. This month's LIAT in flight magazine features six Nature Reserves in the Caribbean. They are: Grand Etang Lake and Rain Forest in Grenada, Barbados Wildlife Reserve, Iwokrama Forest Reserve in Guyana, Bush Bush Wildlife Sanctuary in our Nariva Swamp, Morne Trois Pitons National Park in Dominica and Maria Islands Nature Reserve in St Lucia.

In describing us, they speak about the once threatened Nariva Swamp on Trinidad's east coast now enjoying the protection of Ramsar site status. Our swamp is home to the giant anaconda, caimans and the secretive but beguiling manatee, as well as a host of waterbirds, and the recently reintroduced blue and gold macaw. The article invites us to cruise the labyrinth of wet land channels by boat or kayak, pass through mangroves and across the expansive swamp before reaching the high ground of Bush Bush, where red howler monkeys, and troops of white-faced capuchin dexterously traverse the branches above. The LIAT magazine article recommends Emile Serrette and Stephen Broadbridge as two of the best local guides. The way I see it, there is far too much going on for anyone to get bored here in Trinidad.

Having all these amazing sites and attractions is one thing, but for the many residents who depend on the tourism sector for their livelihood, there are other important ingredients. In media reports of the recently held Tobago Jazz Experience, a comment was made that better airlift would have helped attendance. Some participating hoteliers in Tobago had occupancy rates as low as 45 per cent I am told. So while it is important to have great marketing of our destination, airlift is another critical ingredient. It is in this context that I hope that REDjet is able to regularise its status as soon as possible. From the point of view of tourism stakeholders here in Trinidad and Tobago—every extra seat counts! My name is Derren Joseph and I love my country. As always, I end by saying that despite our challenges, we are so blessed to live in this beautiful land. Let us continue to have the audacity of hope in the future of our beloved country.

Derren is a travel and tourism consultant. The views and opinions expressed here are solely the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of any company or institution affiliated with the writer.

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