Ranking high on the list of failures is that of tourism and the ultimate collapse of the sector from 2015-2018. Tobago tourism has been the hardest hit as the collapse of the sea and air bridges has destroyed the Tobago economy. Currently, Tobago hoteliers are closing up shop due to the unreliability of sea and air bridges which has resulted in lowest ever tourist arrivals to Tobago. In addition, supplies of goods for supermarkets, hardwares etc. have severely impacted upon the business operations of the food and beverage sector.
The number of tourist visiting Trinidad and Tobago has hit a record low in 2017 according to a Trinidad Hotel Restaurants and Tourism Association (THRTA) report entitled, “Review of the industry–A data-driven perspective”, which was prepared by THRTA CEO, Brian Frontin.
According to the report, international tourist arrivals to T&T stood at 394, 650 in 2017, declining from 408, 782 in 2016, and 439, 749 in 2015.
The data, which was sourced from the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), confirms that over the past 17 years, there were only five years when the number of international arrivals to this country dropped below the 400, 000 mark—They were 2000, 2001, 2002, 2010, and 2017.
He wrote: “More importantly, a direct correlation can be established in the downward trend in international arrivals over the period 2015 to 2017, with the reductions in funding allocation by the Government to the Ministry of Tourism (particularly destination marketing budgets), along with the cessation of contracts of overseas marketing representation, closure of TDC and the present ‘non-starter’ status of the replacement entity for Destination Trinidad—Tourism Trinidad Destination Management Company Limited.”
Minister Shamfa Cudjoe’s public statements have also added fuel to the fire as she has come under heavy criticism for calling Tobago businessmen ‘fake’ and scolding them for importing goods and services to Tobago. Minister Cudjoe obviously has shown her incapacity to lead and manage the Ministry of Tourism and the stakeholders of the sector. She is ill-suited to transforming the Trinidad and Tobago tourism product as one of the alternatives for revenue generation in the diversification thrust to move away from reliance on oil and gas revenues.
I therefore call on the Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley to revisit the portfolios of all his Ministers of government as the mid-term review has shown an overall failure.
I also call upon the PM to immediately remove Minister Shamfa Cudjoe from the Ministry of Tourism as she has presided over and is responsible for the collapse of Trinidad and Tobago tourism sector.