Tourism is at the front burner again when Honorable Minister Shamfa Cudjoe announced the dissolution of TDC (Tourism Development Company) at a recent post cabinet meeting. The minister indicated that two authorities would be developed; “one will focus on Trinidad while the other will focus on Tobago” and if no one else was paying attention, a third authority is to be developed . This third entity as the Minister stated would be “a regulatory authority which will set basic standards for all tourism operators” , a topic to be discussed in another article.
Sadly, what appears to be disreputable is the appointment of an Interim CEO , TDC on 8th March,2017 and then a notice of dissolution of TDC on the 9th March 2017. According to a news report, The Honorable Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has affirmed his decision together with his cabinet on the ideologue of the two authorities, in a bid to improve tourism. A decision made without consultation with the Communications Union Workers , contracted employees and sector stakeholders. Within the past few weeks the public and stakeholders have ventilated concerns without being informed of the timeline, the vision or measures that the Government will take.
Let me digress a little on the facts of our existing established tourism organisation :
- Tourism and Industrial Development Company (TIDCO) was split into two entities; one with a focus on Tourism and another on Investor Development (see articles on TIDCO ). The reasons for this separation seemed similar to Hon. Minister Cudjoe’s response on TDC. In May 2005, a special purpose company was formed as the implementation plan to the national policies. The Tourism Development Company (TDC) sole purpose is to develop and market the tourism product of Trinidad and Tobago;
- Tourism Development Act 2000 was developed which governs the policies for the industry in other words, The Tourism Act is the foundation of legislation to facilitate Tourism Development for Trinidad and Tobago
- Draft plan of National Tourism Policy of Trinidad and Tobago commenced in 2003 and completed in 2007; Cabinet approved 2010. This present national working policy framework was derived from various developmental and economic plans that existed between 1995 to 2008.
- The THA Act No. 40 of 1996 incorporated a Division of Tourism as the main arm responsible for the destination marketing of Tobago;
These four(4) official documents were drafted for TDC, THA and The Ministry of Tourism to function and operate in congruence with one another. The crux of the matter is that the national policy was approved 5 years after TDC was formed with “old guards” transferred into the new system. Naturally, the system of governance forged within the organisation became the status quo as no one monitored performance of the organisation. Then there is the inherent power struggle with marketing campaigns and budgetary appropriations between TDC and the THA , a telltale sign of disunity. This breakdown is further compounded with poor leadership, bureaucracy , nepotism , complexities of superiority, and the list can go on and on.
It is inconceivable that after 12 years with established legislation that TDC have failed one of the most fundamental exercises of branding the destination of Trinidad and Tobago. Not to mention that the branding exercise , drafted in policy and strategic plan/s of destination of T&T was irrationally transferred to InvesTT. At this point my guess is as good as yours when it comes the purpose of the existing legislation- an apparent written document to be comforted by.
Based on facts above, I am of the perspective that there is need for reform of TDC and the Ministry of Tourism considering the dysfunctional structures of the non-existent TIDCO and the present functionality of TDC.
What is fundamentally critical to note is that tourism is always evolving with new concepts for investor development; new trends; environmental, social and economic changes; new accommodation concepts (ie. Pop ups) to name a few.
Now that the Government has also engaged in Tourism Authorities shouldn’t they also review the Act? What would be the changes made to the Ministry of Tourism? Would the policy be amended ? What is the master plan for the authorities? Does the Government have a plan to secure talent without “friends or family” involvement? What would be the spend and would the budget be apportioned for the authorities? Which entity would be responsible for branding the image of the islands ? Would each entity use marketing and tactical campaigns of each island tourism products? What is the intention for branding the destination? What is the Government spend to dissolve TDC? What is the budget for creating three entities?
As I close I believe that the public and stakeholders need to understand the intention of the Government with these three new entities so that there are no misconceptions to the present and/ or future state of tourism.
Why dissolve TDC? Please note that the logo is a copy of that used for TDC site . Used (unofficially) for this article based on topic.
Author: Lisa Shandilya, MBA.(Specialized), CEM., B.Sc., 20 years Practitioner in the Hospitality and Service Sector, Member of THRTA, International Hospitality and Service Industry .
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