San Fernando East MP Randall Mitchell says that while the United National Congress (UNC) is promising a host of things in their Local Government Election campaign, citizens should consider how they wasted millions of dollars with little to show for it.
“Don’t be fooled by the UNC propaganda, talking about they’re working and putting on a yellow hard hat for pictures. We know them by their past deeds, it is the same old UNC from 2010 – 2015. Nothing has changed,” Mitchell said.
He was speaking at the People’s National Movement’s (PNM ) public meeting at Skiffle Steel Orchestra in San Fernando on Tuesday night. Mitchell, the Minister of Tourism, said under the UNC, Caribbean Airlines lost over US$500 million but under the PNM, the company returned to profitability in 2017. He said this was one example of how the PNM rescued the country following the crisis it met when elected into government in 2015.
“We had to turnaround the economy. And the turnaround of State enterprises was critical. And while San Fernando people and South people would feel it most because of Petrotrin. Other State enterprises had to be restructured. We’re restructured and now trending in the right direction, including Petrotrin,” he said.
Before citizens vote on December 2, Mitchell said they should reflect on these things. He said the UNC wants citizens to believe that the answer to the drastic fall in energy sector revenue is diversification, such as tourism. But under the UNC, he said the now-defunct Tourism Development Company spent approximately $100 million annually with no returns.
He said overseas marketers were paid tens of thousands of US dollars monthly but tourist arrivals fell. “The TDC was broken with no leadership and every 12 months, it was changing boards. Worst of all, even though the TDC had the responsibility to market Tobago, Tobago and the THA was almost completely cut off. Stakeholders wanted nothing to do with the TDC except those who fed at the trough,” Mitchell said.
He said the Government took the advice to dissolve TDC and restructure the State’s management of the tourism sector, forming the Tourism Trinidad Ltd (TTL) and Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd (TTAL).
While admitting the transition had its challenges, he boasted that TTAL’s destination marketing campaign, “Tobago Beyond”, won the Silver Award for “Best National Tourism Board Campaign” in the International Travel and Tourism Awards presented by WTM in Magazine London on November 5.
He said operations on the air and sea bridge have normalised and will be bolstered by the arrival of two new vessels. While Sandals Resorts International has pulled out of bringing its popular brand to Tobago, he said two internationally branded operators will soon begin operations on the Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort and Turtle Beach Resort and Inn.
“Our visitor arrivals and the amount of money visitors spends when they stay here are both up this year and we continue to ensure that we grow in that direction. We are focusing on working with the Carnival event promoters to ensure that our Carnival remains the most innovating; the best in the regions and worldwide. Our cruise season opens this Thursday with the arrival of the Caribbean Princess and we are ensuring that our cruise numbers increase every year.
Reporter: Kevon Felmine