Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 24th 2016 Contents A14
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Former tourism minister Stephen
Cadiz accused both the PNM and
the former People s Partnership (PP)
government of treating tourism as
a "bastard child."
Supporting Cadiz s comments were
general manager of Kariwak Village
Hotel Allan Clovis and former chief
executive officer of the Caribbean
Hotel Association John Bell.
The trio spoke about the ongoing
resignations of chairmen and directors
on the Tourism Development Com-
pany (TDC) board and frequent
changes of cabinet ministers to man-
age the tourism sector, which have
contributed to the stagnation of the
Their comments came after the
sacking of TDC chairman Dennise
Demming who called for better gov-
ernance in terms of how state boards
execute their functions.
Cadiz said while the PP has to
shoulder some blame for the state
tourism has found itself in, the PNM
has always treated the industry as a
"Until you get a leadership that
understands the basic principles of a
successful tourism sector you going
nowhere. All administrations, barring
none, have treated tourism as some
second class thing. Sad to say, it has
always been put on the backburner."
To some extent, Cadiz said, tourism
suffered under the PP government
with the appointment of four tourism
ministers in five years, under then
prime minister Kamla Persad-Bisses-
sar.These ministers were Rupert Grif-
fith, Chandresh Sharma and Gerald
Hadeed, including Cadiz.
The TDC board also saw four
changes of its chairman in 25 months
from 2010 to 2014.
"Any organisation that changes its
leadership that often would have
problems in building an industry.
There were huge disruptions from
day one. It pains my heart to see
where tourism has reached today."
Cadiz said he wanted to stay in
tourism to continue the work he had
started, but Persad-Bissessar had other
plans for him.
He said the sector needed an
adminstration that understands that
tourism is a billion-dollar industry
that can bring in huge revenue for
"An industry like this can make or
break T&T s economy."
In a nutshell, Cadiz said, the TDC
board seemed clueless as to what they
Clovis also agreed that all govern-
ments have treated tourism as a
He felt people with vision and
experience in the tourism sector were
always sidelined as far as serving on
the TDC board.
He said those selected to run the
show never made the best decisions
"Given the demise that we have
found ourselves in with the collapsing
oil prices, tourism should have been
given priority to generate money for
the country. But this never happened.
It was left in the wilderness," said
Clovis, a former president of the T&T
Hotel and Tourism Association.
"This must affect the industry. You
must be able to secure the confidence
of the existing stakeholders. You must
have vision to attract entrepreneurs.
It s like looking for love in all the
Clovis said there has been a lot of
talk by governments, but little action.
He said Demming s sudden dis-
missal had the potential to drive away
"It puts the country in a bad light.
You don t need people to stay away
from tourism. I have listened to some
of the statements being made and
you feel people are going to buy that?"
Clovis said there were too many
disruptions and distractions in TDC,
which can also dissuade people from
serving on future boards.
Bell, on the other hand, believes
TDC s troubled past hinges on gov-
ernments lack of commitment to
supporting the industry.
"I am sick to death of the fact that
five cabinet ministers and five TDC
chairmen were appointed in five years
to manage the sector. How could any-
thing possibly develop cohesively?"
If the Government does not inter-
vene and urge the Tourism Ministry
to generate revenue, create jobs and
put tourism on the world stage, Bell
said nothing, would fall into place.
"This mandate has to be driven
from the Prime Minister s Office and
Cabinet to make it happen. Until that
happens, we would be going around
in circles," said Bell, who also served
as a director on the Paris-based Inter-
national Hotel and Restaurant Asso-
Like Clovis, Bell expressed concerns
about the poor quality of directors
selected who have been making bad
decisions for TDC.
Bell said the Government needed
to bring on board people who under-
stood the industry inside out.
He said Government has "to grasp
the nettle and give a commitment to
the sector because there was quite a
degree of disappointment among
Sharing his views also was president
of the Tobago Hotel and Tourism
Association Chris James.
James said investor confidence has
never recovered from the lack of des-
tination marketing by both the TDC
and Tobago House of Assembly.
"As a consequence our international
tourism arrivals have continued to
decline since the high of 2005. T&T
has never really taken tourism seri-
ously and does not spend the kind of
money that other destinations readily
spend on marketing, knowing that
the investment pays off handsome-
ly."After a decade of declining inter-
national arrivals, shortage of forex
and an apparent indifference towards
tourism, James said it has "been
impossible to convince people that
Tobago is the place to invest their
capital. The risks are seen as too great,"
"In Tobago, over the last ten years
our international arrivals have dropped
from 87,796 to 22,435 in 2015, due to
lack of destination marketing," James
James said if T&T is to become
serious about rebuilding a year-round,
sustainable tourism industry, then it
needs to create a brand for Tobago,
seriously market the destination on
a continuous basis and encourage
investors both domestic and foreign
with incentives that are competitive
with the rest of the region.
"We need to adopt the right wel-
coming attitude and offer value and
service. Over the past ten years there
has only been talk, despite clear private
sector milestones and sign posts as
to where we should be going with
James said if the value of tourism
was understood in terms of job cre-
ation and foreign currency inflow, it
would become the country s main
Tourism Minister Shamfa Cudjoe
defended the work of the Tourism
Development Company and noted
that the Government was conducting
a review of the organisation.
"Right now the Government has
instructed and is conducting a review
on the TDC and its implementation
arm for the ministry. We have a
regional consultant who has been
meeting with staff in the TDC and
stakeholders trying to get the right
She also batted for the current TDC
directors who she said were experi-
enced in communications, marketing,
law, tourism and business manage-
Cudjoe said based on guidelines,
directors do not need to have a specific
background in tourism.
RADHICA SOOKRAJ-DE SILVA
As the highway contract signed
between Construtora OAS and
Government comes to a close this
month, retrenched workers staged
a fiery protest at Golconda,
demanding outstanding wages
and severance benefits.
They again called on the Gov-
ernment to file an injunction stop-
ping OAS executives from leaving
T&T. Before the protest, the frus-
trated workers went to the head-
quarters of the Oilfields Workers
Trade Union to complain about
the union s delays in securing their
Spokesman Nash Clarke said,
"We had a meeting with the
OWTU two weeks ago and we do
not know what is going on. We
got information that we are sup-
posed to get paid last week but
nobody is telling us anything,"
Saying the OAS contract will
end on May 26, Clarke said,
"Someone has to stand up for us.
The union is not doing it and we
getting no representation. People
have bills to pay and everybody is
frustrated. That is why we are here
this morning to demand a meeting
with the OWTU and hopefully they
can give us an insight into what
can take place."
He said over 900 workers were
owed two outstanding bi-monthly
salaries as well as severance pay.
"This has been highlighted so
long now and the Government has
not met with us. It seems they
don t care about us. All they care
about is getting the bonds. We
want Minister of Labour and Min-
ister of Works to ensure that we
get our monies from OAS," Clarke
Another protester, Sunil
Sookram, said since December little
has been done for the workers.
"OAS sent us to Nidco and then
to the union. We are demanding
a meeting with OWTU and we will
be guided by the union about how
to go next," Sookram said.
Contacted yesterday, president
general of the OWTU Ancel Roget
said his team has been addressing
the workers issues.
"We have our lawyers looking
at the matter. OAS workers went
with us last week to Nidco. OAS
is saying that they cannot pay the
workers because Nidco has frozen
its assets. We have asked Nidco
to unfreeze assets so OAS can sell
equipment and give the workers
their monies," Roget said.
He added, "We are maximizing
every possible opportunity on this
matter and we are acting on the
advice of our lawyers. Our lawyers
led by Douglas Mendes are thor-
oughly examining the issue to
determine the best way forward."
Roget also said that the OWTU
cannot stop OAS executives from
"The performance bond is a
matter between OAS and Nidco
but we are looking at the possibility
that when the bond is released, it
could be used in the name of the
workers," Roget added.
He said the OWTU will continue
to push for changes in the law. "I
want to reassure the workers that
we are getting the best legal
advice," Roget added.
OWTU s chief labour relations
officer Lyndon Mendoza met with
the workers yesterday and updated
them. About 2 pm, fire officers
extinguished the fiery road block-
Last week, Labour Minister Jen-
nifer Baptiste-Primus said she was
willing to meet with the OAS
workers to discuss their issues.
Baptiste-Primus, who was once
the president of the Public Services
Association (PSA), said consulta-
tions are currently being held
regarding the impending reform
of the Retrenchment and Sever-
ance Benefits Act, the Companies
Act and the Industrial Relations
OAS workers in fiery protest
A retrenched worker of OAS Construtora looks on after a fire was set at the
entrance of OAS head Office, Golconda, yesterday. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
Cadiz: PP, PNM treated tourism as bastard child
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