Tourism stakeholders upset Cadiz gone
Saturday, September 7 2013
Tourism organisations have spoken out against the Prime Minister’s decision to change the Tourism Minister for the third time in three years, saying each new appointment further delays much-needed plans to boost and improve this country’s tourism product.
President of the Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Association (THRTA), Hassel Thom, yesterday lamented “every time a minister changes, our industry experiences much unwarranted and unneeded upheavals.”
“It takes the new tourism minister and the TDC Board, a minimum of six months to get their feet on the ground before we can start propelling this industry forward in the way it should go.” Thom was addressing the media yesterday afternoon at a joint press conference held at Courtyard by Marriott, Port-of-Spain. Also in attendance were representatives of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association (THTA), the Small Tourism Accommodation Owners of TT (STAOTT) and the TT Incoming Tour Operators (TTITOA).
In a joint statement issued yesterday, the tourism stakeholders said they “were shattered” when Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar replaced Stephen Cadiz as Tourism Minister. Cadiz switches jobs with Chandresh Sharma, becoming Transport Minister with Sharma now the Tourism Minister.
“Minister Cadiz was only appointed in June last year with little experience in the industry. His approach was refreshing as he embraced the stakeholders on both islands almost from his first day in office,” the joint statement read.
The stakeholders also voiced support for Tourism Development Company chairman Brian Frontin, appealing to the Prime Minister to leave him in this position.
“We wish to publically state our support for Brian Frontin as one of the best tourism managers to come into the industry in years, and implore the Prime Minister and the new Minister of Tourism to leave him in place at the TDC,” they said.
Secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago Incoming Tour Operators (TTITOA), Lorraine Pouchet, told Newsday if the Prime Minister had thought to consult stakeholders prior to her Cabinet reshuffle, Cadiz would still be Tourism Minister today.
“Nobody called us and asked us ‘Is Minister Cadiz performing?’ You just moved him. Now we have to start all over again. So we are quite devastated about this move actually.”
Pouchet also said the group would like to meet with Persad-Bissessar, in order to impress upon her the importance of stability and execution of projects, as well as the need for an appropriate budget for overseas marketing. “The TDC Chairman, Brian Frontin, and Minister Cadiz had a strategic plan in place to re-brand TT, to significantly increase awareness of our country as a tourist destination. If the new minister decides to do like his predecessors and appoint a new TDC chairman, we are going to be re-inventing the wheel yet again,” she said. Exactly how much money does TT’s tourism sector need to ‘put it on the map’ internationally? US$50 million, much of which would be allocated to marketing.