Since the collapse of the seabridge last year, Tobago’s tourism sector has suffered approximately $700 million in losses. However, some industry stakeholders are hopeful that the upcoming Easter weekend will see an increase in domestic and international visitor arrivals.

President of the Tobago Chamber Demi John Cruickshank said the addition of the two Caribbean Airlines (CAL) aircraft and the expected return to service of the T&T Spirit should bring much needed relief.

“Trinidadians love Tobago, especially for the Easter, and if everything goes well we are hoping we will have a very good Easter. The additional aircraft will be a great help to the island,” he said.

The T&T Spirit has been out of service since last June when it went on dry dock, leaving sister ship the T&T Express as the only passenger ferry operating on the route.

Tobago’s business community had suffered since the departure of the Superfast Galicia shortly after Easter last year.

Cruickshank said talks are planned with various stakeholders after the Easter holidays to decide on a better way forward. Proposals for more sea and air carriers to ensure greater efficiency will be considered, he said.

President of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association Chris James agreed that the island had suffered massively and he expects the low occupancy levels which have plagued the island’s hotel sector to continue in the foreseeable future. He said there is total lack of confidence of Trinidadian visitors “to even attempt to come to Tobago”, so the extra seats provided by CAL on the airbridge will be of little assistance.

“That cannot make up for the numbers the sea-bridge provided,” James said.

In a recent interview, James had noted a considerable decline in international arrivals to Tobago—less than 19,000 last year compared to a few years ago when the figure was over 80,000.