Tourism stakeholders in Trinidad say too much turbulence in the tourism sector has undermined the industry over the years. Here are some stakeholder reactions to the appointment of Howard Chin Lee as chairman of Tourism Trinidad Ltd and the removal of Janelle Penny Commissiong from the post.
Denise Aleong-Thomas - President, Small Tourism Accommodation Owners of T&T
“We are totally exhausted in the tourism sector. There have been so many changes in the tourism sector, we haven’t been able to get off the ground.
I am hoping that this new board will hit the ground running, and hoping this will not be more of the same.”
Aleong-Thomas said the board should provide policy direction on the growing number of private property owners who offer accommodation via Airbnb, the online marketplace for lodging rentals.
She said while registered accommodation owners have to meet national standards, there is no regulation for Airbnb properties.
Wendell Griffith - President, T&T Tour Guides Association
“I think it’s quite unfortunate that the new board before we could have seen any performance, anything substantial, they’ve been scrapped and gone. Mr Chin Lee has achieved in the past, both personally and in his ministry.
I think he will bring something good to the table. The rest of the board, I don’t know of their performances. The tourism sector has been in too much turmoil. When will we see a real tourism product, what year?
I am always in prayer that whomever they put there will offer something real.”
Sydney Valere - President of the T&T Tourist Transport Service Association
“I have worked personally with both of them, I worked with Howard Chin Lee when he was Minister of Tourism in an old PNM regime and I worked with Penny under the new Tourism Trinidad Ltd (TTL) and with both of them, I have found they are both conscious of what they are doing.
TTL has not been given any sort of finance or mandate to do anything; they have been literally non-existent for some time and now that they have been trying to get on their footing...maybe a bit of turbulence may just wake us up in the tourism industry.
The tourism industry is not seen as important to the GDP of the country. We are not seen as important to any significant growth of the economy outside the energy sector. So all the changes that have happened, nothing has really improved.
We are still at a standstill, not going anywhere. We haven’t been meeting with the Tourism Minister. Nothing is happening with the tourism industry.
We are still at square one.
Reporter: Faine Richards