Penny sacks Tourism CEO, ignores Minister

The CEO of the Tourism Trinidad Ltd has been fired af­ter just six months on the job.

And there now ap­pears to be con­fu­sion at the State-com­pa­ny sur­round­ing the dis­missal of Camille Camp­bell, a for­mer TSTT mar­ket­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

 

Con­fi­den­tial let­ters ob­tained by Guardian Me­dia point to a con­flict be­tween the com­pa­ny’s chair­man Janelle Pen­ny Com­mis­siong and Tourism Min­is­ter Ran­dall Mitchell and some board mem­bers, who claimed they were blind-sided by Com­mis­siong on the fir­ing of the CEO.

This de­vel­op­ment comes even as the Caribbean Tourism Or­gan­i­sa­tion record­ed a fall in tourist ar­rivals to this coun­try and stake­hold­ers re­port­ing eco­nom­ic dis­tress.

Tourism Trinidad Ltd was one of two com­pa­nies formed af­ter the clo­sure of the Tourism De­vel­op­ment Com­pa­ny in 2017. A sep­a­rate com­pa­ny, the To­ba­go Tourism Agency, was formed to man­age the af­fairs on that is­land.

How­ev­er, on Mon­day Com­mis­siong, fired Camp­bell cit­ing poor per­for­mance and a fail­ure to pro­tect the or­gan­i­sa­tion from risk, act­ing in a man­ner which called in­to ques­tion her cred­i­bil­i­ty and in­ten­tion­al­ly mis­rep­re­sent­ing the board’s views to em­ploy­ees.

In a let­ter dat­ed Ju­ly 1, the for­mer Miss Uni­verse wrote to Camp­bell, say­ing, “The Board views the above-men­tioned in­ci­dents as in­di­ca­tors of your un­suit­abil­i­ty to per­form the role of CEO and have there­fore tak­en the de­ci­sion to ter­mi­nate your con­tract of em­ploy­ment with the Tourism Trinidad Lim­it­ed.”

But the de­ci­sion to fire Camp­bell was not unan­i­mous, with some board mem­bers ob­ject­ing in writ­ing to the min­istry say­ing they were not in sup­port of the de­ci­sion.

Guardian Me­dia has re­ceived copies of sev­er­al cor­re­spon­dences be­tween Com­mis­siong and Mitchell, Camp­bell’s dis­missal let­ter and let­ters shared among board mem­bers, Com­mis­siong and the min­is­ter on the is­sue.

In one let­ter, Com­mis­siong re­ports to Mitchell on the fir­ing of the CEO, in which she said the board re­ceived in­dus­tri­al re­la­tion and le­gal ad­vice on its po­si­tion.

“The Board sought on­go­ing pro­fes­sion­al ad­vice from IR con­sul­tant and lawyer Lennox Mar­celle,” she wrote.

Guardian Me­dia has al­so re­ceived a copy of the board’s agen­da of June 28, when the de­ci­sion was made to fire Camp­bell and her as­sess­ment was not on the agen­da.

Sources tell Guardian Me­dia that the Gov­ern­ment has for some time been con­sid­er­ing changes to the board but there has been fear that it could lead to the pub­lic tak­ing the side of cer­tain board mem­bers.

Sev­er­al calls to Com­mis­siong’s mo­bile phone went unan­swered as well as What­sApp mes­sages.

Com­mis­siong al­so told Mitchell that she was ig­nor­ing her in­struc­tion not to fire mem­bers of staff.

She wrote to Mitchell on Tues­day stat­ing, “The BOD al­so took cog­nizance of your in­struc­tion in a let­ter dat­ed June 6, 2019, in which you or­dered that no dis­ci­pli­nary ac­tion be tak­en against any mem­ber of staff. You will have re­ceived my re­sponse in which I de­clined to con­form with that in­struc­tion be­cause it was nei­ther in ac­cor­dance with the SP­MM (State En­ter­prise Per­for­mance Mon­i­tor­ing Man­u­al) —which both the BOD and the Min­is­ter are re­quired to strict­ly ob­serve — and not good in­dus­tri­al re­la­tions prac­tice.”

This is not the first time the two squared off.

In a se­ries of let­ters in late Jan­u­ary and Feb­ru­ary, the two dis­agreed over Com­mis­siong propos­ing a $1.8 mil­lion re-launch of Trinidad Tourism Ltd.

The Min­is­ter al­so chas­tised Com­mis­siong’s board for fail­ing to pro­mote the coun­try 13 months af­ter it was ap­point­ed on the ex­cuse that the man­age­ment had on­ly late last year been put in place.

Reporter: Curtis Williams

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