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Tourism on downward spiral

Thursday, December 19 2013

Tourism stakeholders say there is no holistic plan for the tourism industry and if the current rate of decline in visitors continues, they will be out of business by this time next year.

Hassel Thom, president of the Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Association and Lorraine Pouchet, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Incoming Tour Operators Association yesterday stated tourism had taken a “downward spiral”. Speaking to reporters yesterday at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain after a meeting with Tourism Minister Chandresh Sharma, Pouchet said, “Even if something happens right now, it will take two to three years for us to see any tangible results.”

According to Pouchet, every time Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar changed a Minister or members of the Tourism Development Board, tourism stakeholders lose 12 to 18 months of planning. “This is the same Government, they are supposed to be on the same team and have the same objectives, but every Minister that has changed thus far, has revisited everything,” she said.

Thom and Pouchet said the TT brand was to be launched at World Travel Market in November 2013, but that did not happen. They claimed former Tourism Minister, Stephen Cadiz said the Ministry was close to selecting a marketing and advertising agency to do the branding before the most recent Cabinet reshuffe, but Sharma wished to review it because he was not sure if the process was fair.

When contacted, Sharma said branding of the country was an ongoing exercise and business was being conducted by due process. “Just because they want it to happen by a certain time does not mean that it can,” he said.

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