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Motions

FULL VIDEO
REQUEST FOR TOBAGONIANS TO DEVELOP THEIR CULTURE AND PRESERVE THEIR HERITAGE
Assemblyman

Madam Presiding Officer, I join with the Members of this House to congratulate you on your elevation as Presiding Officer, of the Tobago House of Assembly.  As we know, we worked with you successfully before as the Clerk of the House, and so we know that we will be able to continue in this vein. So, we wish that God continues to bless you and guide you as you proceed with your mandate. 

The Motion is therefore carried.


        Leader of Assembly Business.


Assemblyman
4.14 P.M

So in closing, Madam Presiding Officer, I want to state, that tourism is too important a resource to be left solely to the tourism professionals.  The community has to be a part of the mobilization strategy.  That is the only way that we can reinvent the role of heritage so that it serves the need of everyone.  


       I want to state here today and as I have said it before, my Division and I am sure that I can speak on behalf of the Tobago House of Assembly as the Deputy Chief Secretary, we are destined to restore the industry to a trajectory growth path.  The Comprehensive Economic Development Plan is central to this process, but more importantly, the people are also central to the process.  We are the ones who can make this happen.  Let us make sure that two (2) or three (3) years from today, we shall be able to look back with pride at the industry that we all would have rebuild together.  So, I am asking that on a daily basis, we, not only us around this table, we examine ourselves and confirm that we have done our part in this grand initiative to build the cultural sector and by extension, all of Tobago. 

  

        So, Madam Presiding Officer, I thank you for the opportunity to clarify even things that were said recently. I thank my Colleagues for their contribution and for their support to this Motion this afternoon.   Most importantly, I thank them even for their contribution and their support in executing the mandate of the Executive Council, but most importantly, the people of Tobago. 

 

       I take my seat now, Madam Presiding Officer, and again thank you for the opportunity. [Desk thumping] 


Question put and agreed to.



Assemblyman

Thank you very much, Madam Presiding Officer, for once again, allowing me the opportunity to wrap up on this very timely and important Motion this afternoon where we seek to remind Tobagonians of their roles and responsibilities, of their behaviours and of the need for more collaboration and more synergistic approaches as we seek to chart the way forward and to develop the tourism sectors and by extension all sectors in Tobago at this point in time.


I want to indicate that the World Tourism Organization has said that Cultural Tourism accounts for thirty-seven percent (37%) of Global Tourism and it will continue to grow by about fifteen percent (15%) each year.  This tells me that Cultural Tourism can allow destinations such as ours to become major drivers of destination attractiveness, competitiveness and offer local people opportunities to be entrepreneurs.


 I would have highlighted, how our people would have come out and how they would have displayed their wares at the Tobago Jazz Experience and also when the cruise ships come in and those persons I am sure would have been patronized by visitors and are also receiving benefits from the visitors and are making their contribution to the development of the Cultural Tourism product.


Madam Presiding Officer, I want to state that I value the contribution of the supporters of this Motion today.  I endorse the key point raised by the Member for Buccoo/Mt. Pleasant that even internally within the Tobago House of Assembly, within the Divisions, we need to treat with our customer service approach.  We need to develop even a Customer Service experience and further, to ask ourselves whether we at the divisional level are making our contribution to improving the Customer Service experience because far too often I hear the cries from Members of the public who are accessing services within respective Divisions that we need to treat with how members of staff in those particular Divisions talk to and treat with persons who are looking for services.  The responsibility is in all of us to be introspective and to ask ourselves, how are we contributing to building the sector and most importantly, how are we treating with our customer service approaches and how are we building the customer service experience.


I value the contribution from the Secretary of Agriculture, Marine Affairs and the Environment that he is seeking to undertake a reafforestation exercise so that our eco-tourism product, our eco-tourism experience can remain intact because we in the Division of Tourism and Transportation, our main responsibility is to encourage persons to come to the destination.  Things like:


  • The rainforest; 

  • The protection of the marine life; 

  • Buccoo Reef; 

  • Nylon Pool; 

  • Speyside and the Dive Sites –


are all under the ambit of the Division of Agriculture, Marine Affairs and the Environment.  So that if that Division does not play its part then it is difficult for us in the Division of Tourism and Transportation to go out there and to market a product because basically, we will be marketing something that we do not have.   So, that is why I always call on the Secretary and his team Members to work collaboratively with us in the Division of Tourism and Transportation so that we can get the support and most importantly, that we can build that aspect of the tourism product even further.

  

I value the contribution that he has made here this evening, that him, through his leadership are mobilizing his staff members are working towards to ensuring that he continuously builds the eco-tourism product so that we in the Division of Tourism and Transportation have something to do.  


I also value the contribution from Councillor Isaac. His recommendations from the youth which highlights the points that I have made earlier that we need collaboration; we need ideas; we need creativity in the sector and most importantly, we need entrepreneurship so the water park that he has just mentioned is in large part a private sector led initiative.


 I also value the contribution from Councillor Isaac. His recommendations from the youth which highlights the points that I have made earlier that we need collaboration; we need ideas; we need creativity in the sector and most importantly, we need entrepreneurship so the water park that he has just mentioned is in large part a private sector led initiative.ons are owned and if not managed by the private sector.


We have loans available at the Division of Finance and Enterprise Development and we have grants available at the Division of Finance and Enterprise Development.  There is even a venture capital initiative all aimed at holding the hands of Tobagonians so that if they have a business idea, if it is feasible they will work with them towards ensuring that we can implement that idea as much as possible.


While I value the contribution, I must make the point as well that more than the idea, we need to see the Tobagonians coming forward and taking up on the opportunities to implement the ideas that they now hold.  Creativity, entrepreneurship goes hand in hand with building a vibrant tourism sector.


Madam Presiding Officer, the Tobago House of Assembly has been creating an enabling environment.  In the Division of Tourism and Transportation alone, from 2013 to present, I have signed off over ten million dollars ($10m.) worth of request to Taxi Drivers for concessions to purchase vehicles.  There are letters coming weekly – “We need to ensure that we buy new vehicles because we have to treat with the cruise sector, we have to treat with tourist coming in, we have to treat with residents in a particular way and we need to ensure that we have the transportation to facilitate movement of people from place to place.”


Madam Presiding Officer, we have the Room Upgrade Programme.  I spoke about that earlier.  We have excellent natural resources and assets.  The Iconic Tax Roof at Pigeon Point.  Some of the best all day beaches in the Caribbean.  We have the food – our Crab and Dumpling, we have activities – the Buccoo Goat Race, the Blue Food Festival, the Tobago Jazz Experience, Heritage Festival, but most importantly, we have a resilient people and we have the traditions. So, if we are to be conscious minded, Madam Presiding Officer, I am sure that collectively, we can play our role, we can do our part in building this thing called “The Tourism Sector” and by extension “Tobago.”


Partners for Livable Communities emphasizes that Cultural Heritage Tourism takes on a particular urgency during an economic downturn.  In tough economic times collaborative participation by everyone in the community is needed and is especially necessary to make the most out of what resources exist.  Tourism therefore, could undoubtably play a  significant role in meeting the challenges of the energy sector and the diversification of Tobago to benefit the citizenry.    





Secretary of Tourism and Transportation.  [Desk thumping]

Councillor
4.04 P.M

Madam Presiding Officer, not only are we interested in ensuring the experience of the visitor is one of exceptional circumstances, one that a visitor can reminisce for a lifetime and have at the forefront of their minds to share with the children and their great grandchildren but we as a people must embrace change.


Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer.  [Desk thumping]


Councillor
3.54 P.M

We can showcase, market, sell, advertise Tobago and its unique selling positions to the world over in so many unique ways and to thousands of captivated audiences. Madam Presiding Officer, first and foremost, must be to create the awareness. Once you have created the awareness, many other things flow. The interest flows, the desire flows and that individual person or persons may take action. They start looking online, they start checking out the destination, they start enquiring, asking a friend, “Have you ever heard about Tobago or they even head to a travel agent to find out so what it is going to cost for me to leave here in Old Trafford to get to Tobago? Is there a direct flight? If the answer is no, and the desire is so strong, you will find a way, Madam Presiding Officer.

In 2006, was World Cup and we all remember Trinidad and Tobago played in World Cup in 2006? What a proud moment for our country then? Many of us wanted to be there in Germany to share in the glory and to share in the moment. I myself wanted to be there, but I had a dilemma. My brother was in New York and a close friend of ours was in Washington. They said to me that it was cheaper for them to stay where they were and for me to come and meet them in New York, and then for us to travel to Iceland and from Iceland to Germany.  But I could have stayed right here and gotten

a direct flight to Germany. But my point is, if you have that strong desire and that will to go to a destination, you are going to find your way there.  If the desire is strong enough for hundreds or thousands of people, an airline will come to you, Madam Presiding Officer, sharing ideas! 

 

        So from a labour perspective, we have embraced this Motion and we have decided that we will continue in our Customer Service Training Facilitation, but we have decided to expand it to hoteliers, to guest house operators, to restaurateurs, so that our professed natural warmth as a people can remain pristine.


Madam Presiding Officer, we also want to encourage front line employees to be empowered to make decisions for the best of the establishments that they serve and in keeping with retaining the customers that they look after.  Therefore, we feel that Customers Service Training is imperative.  


      Switching gears, Madam Presiding Officer, a tad bit to Information Technology on our island.  You see, in this day and age when we speak of technology almost everything is at our fingertips.  Therefore, we must continue to encourage service providers in the Tourism Industry to move with this new age.  Any visitor should be able to speak about how technology savoury we in Tobago are, Information Kayos should be strategically placed island wide.  I noticed one at the Scarborough Port and I must commend the Secretary of Tourism and Transportation for that, but we need more around the island.


Madam Presiding Officer, when we speak of “Tourism” we speak about an experience after your vacation has come to an end. Dr. A. Lewis Cameron, Coordinator of Tourism Hospitality and Sports Unit at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago describes experiential tourism as a new area being explored by the savvy educated tourist of today and the future.  The vacations is of something emotional, sometimes spiritual even intellectual for some and it goes beyond, sand, sea and sun.  Now the attraction is engagement, it is a connection, a transformation, an experience that is experienced by both the hosts and also the visitor.  That touristic experience contains an emotional affinity and one yearns for that experience, Madam Presiding Officer.  An experience is what you remember, it is stored in your memory and would last a life time.  Sport tourism, eco-tourism, medical tourism whatever niche’, whatever category, music entertainment, a spiritual trip to the Mecca of the Holy Land, historic trip taking you back to your ancestral home.  Whatever the reason that spurred on your travel, it urges the visitor to use their five (5) senses: 

  • Seeing; 

  • Hearing; 

  • Tasting; 

  • Touching;

  • Smelling; 

all plays part of the experience, Madam Presiding Officer.  But more importantly, is how we as a people approach our present circumstance of today, so that it does not affect the experience of the visitor.  So after you would have had that experience as a visitor to Tobago, when your vacation is spoken of would it reflect an authentic, exceptional experience?  We would need that kind of report in an effort to be able to sustain our tourism economy here in Tobago.  We all know how powerful word of mouth is, well not to mention social media because we all know how expedia.com works.  Madam Presiding Officer, we in Tobago must have an appreciation for doing things differently.  The time has come for us to start appreciating and embracing revenue generated initiatives on the island so that it can benefit the Tourism industry.  

Councillor
3.44 P.M

Madam Presiding Officer, the reason for targeting those markets would be your core cut and thrust objectives.  Once we know this, you are now able to determine your strategies and your tactics you will employ to achieve your desired outcome.  You know, sometimes in business and as I said before, that is exactly what this is - it is a business.  We have to be pragmatic and therefore, there are certain fundamentals we must accept when we are targeting an audience or targeting source markets, and it always begins with awareness - awareness of your product offering. 


Madam Presiding Officer, I like my Colleague – Member for Buccoo would have travelled a tad bit but there are still a couple of countries that I feel that I want to visit in this life time and Italy is one such country.  But there is no direct flight from Tobago to Italy so what I have to do whenever I am ready to go there and whenever I can afford to go there is that, I would have to jump online, see where the routes take me so that I can find myself to Italy.   But what do I know about Italy, how is it that I have known of Italy?  It is because of the Awareness Campaign.   It is because that they would have initiated an Awareness Campaign to ensure that not only spaces in the Western Hemisphere knows about their country but spaces globally know about their country.  Hence the reason I make the call for Awareness increase and mounting interest in Language Tourism.  Her research showed the statistics worldwide for that particular service.


Monaco in Europe has seen a tremendous increase in students travelling from around the world to spend months in that country to learn a language.  They do not just visit for two (2) to three (3) weeks but instead they visited and stayed up to six (6) months at a time.  Her study also showed that from the Caribbean, Tobago was offering more than just sun, sea and sand; that we had diversification in our island to offer our visitors worldwide.  She suggested that she had seen tourism grow exponentially based on Internet Marketing.  This marketing strategy was especially geared towards China “Number one world tourism” spender who has the most travelled tourists in the world as mentioned earlier, not only for its size but for the share volume of its visitors to other parts of the world.


Approximately six hundred and eighty million (680m) Chinese travel each year on vacation and their preferred destination sites are the tropics.  


Madam Presiding Officer, we are well aware that China holds more than a third of the world’s population and we should not be fearful of competing for a piece of that market share, not only for leisure tourist but also for a specific new niché for us here in Tobago that of Language Tourism.


      Chinese students coming to Tobago to learn English, what you say, Madam Presiding Officer?  We are sharing ideas.  I am sure Tobago Hotel and Tourism Institute (THTI) would welcome that.   I am also certain that it is worth having a discussion with the Chinese Ambassador, His Excellency, Huang Xingyuan.


Madam Presiding Officer, it is my humble deposit that tourism and culture just as stated by the Tourism Secretary, are inextricably linked and therefore, more collaborative efforts must be forged in an effort for success to reign.  You see once you mention a cultural event or activity, you also speak to tourism. 


     Visitors come to our shores for Heritage, Carnival, Blue Food Festival, Culinary Festival, Dragon Boat Festival just to name a few.  When you showcase our cultural heritage, on the world stage be it at:


  • WTM; 

  • ITB; 

  • International Road Show; 

  • World Cup; 

  • Olympics; 

  • French or US Tennis Open; 

  • Agusta Golf Course; 

  • Old Trafford; 

  • NFL; 

  • Anyone of the NFL Stadium in the USA or even NBA. 

Madam Presiding Officer, the idea is to create awareness of your product.

Councillor
3.34 P.M

So, Madam Presiding Officer, when a person or persons are brave enough to come forward, especially young people and share their ideas as to how we can develop Tobago and how we can develop our island, how we can develop our space and how we can develop our people.  As my Colleague would have spoken to human capital development, not only do we have a responsibility to listen, Madam Presiding Officer, but we also have a responsibility to analyse that idea, to evaluate that idea and by all means implement the idea.  Because taking action means, know what you want and you are going after it and you are not afraid to fail. You see, and I really and I am piggingbacking on my Colleague Assemblyman Ancil Dennis, we really have to change our mindset and we really have to change the status quo, Madam Presiding Officer.  For those who are afraid to fail, never step out and if you do not give yourself a fighting chance then, well, you would have failed anyway.  According to a good friend of mine, what is the point?  So step out, step out into the unknown.  Enter into unchartered territory.  Who knows, Madam Presiding Officer, just may be with judiciousness, and astute management some success stories might be had.  I do not know everything, and I would never claim to know everything, but how else will we know unless we brave our fear of failure.  That is exactly what we need here in Tobago in this time, in this era, in this circumstance in this economic  challenge that we are faced with presently.   I humbly submit that that is what we need. We need some action, some revenue generated action.  The ideas are out there, many of which are tourism oriented, Madam Presiding Officer.  All of those that I am going to mention, came from young people throughout Tobago. Unlike the thinking of some people, I know how to sit on the block too.  I understand and appreciate that there are times when you must go out there and interact with the young people and get their views and opinion.  It might sound like a cliché, but whether we like it or not, the young ones are the ones coming up and who will sit around this Horseshoe and I say it all the time, in years to come, they are going to be leaders of tomorrow. 

 

So some of the suggestions coming from young people:


  • The establishment of an agro food park; 

  • The establishment of a water park using PPP; and venture capital;

  • The Rehabilitation of the Cocoa Factory; 

  • The introduction of a toll fee to drive through the rainforest reserve; 

  • The establishment of a zoo in Tobago, 


just to name a few.   I would not bore you, Madam Presiding Officer.  But I do not think it is about boring anybody, quite frankly, but there are a host of ideas emanating from young people in Tobago who are interested, who are very vigorously interested in ensuring that they play a part in the development of our island. I dare say, that the ideas is what is going to assist us to ride this wave of this economic challenge that we are faced with presently.  I mean, I am no economic expert, not my field of study, but if the Government of the day is asking for ideas and a lot of young people here in Tobago are willing to give it, just as I said before, I think it is our responsibility to embrace it, evaluate them, analyse them and if it is feasible by all means implement and give a young person “a pat on the back” for a good idea.


Madam Presiding Officer, shifting gears a bit to Marketing because whether we like it or not when you speak of “Tourism”, you must speak about “Marketing”.  You must speak about marketing the destination and you must speak about how you come up with your objectives in the first place and what type of strategies and tactics you are going to employ in an effort to be able to achieve your outcome or your desired outcome.  Madam Presiding Officer, when you look at the data and you look at the statistics provided by WTO the World’s top Tourism in 2015 spenders include: 


China                  -US165b  

United States of America -US112b.

Germany        -US 92b.

United Kingdom,-US 58b.

Russia                -US 50b.

 Madam Presiding Officer, just to put  things into perspective, the residents of these various countries are the ones leaving their country going into another territory and spending that kind of money.  This is the kind of parameter or rather barometer that we need in an effort for us to be able to do some analysis.  We looked at the top ten (10) spenders so we know who to target, Madam Presiding Officer.  But after we have done that, there is a little acronym and sometimes being pragmatic is important.  But sometimes it is also important to go back to your little textbook because schooling is rather important.   I see one of my school teachers here this afternoon, so I do not want her to forget in any way that I have not been schooled in some way, shape, form or fashion.  Madam Presiding Officer, there is a little acronym that every tourism professional, particularly a marketing professional should always have a rule of tongue, and that acronym is AIDA (Awareness Interest Desire Action). You see, Madam Presiding Officer, once you would have established who our targets or targeted source markets are and we must know why we are targeting those markets.

Canada         -US 38b.

Italy         -US 28b.

Australia           -US 26b. 

Brazil                 -US 25b.

        Madam Presiding Officer, just to put things into perspective, the residents of these various countries are the ones leaving their country going into another territory and spending that kind of money.  This is the kind of parameter or rather barometer that we need in an effort for us to be able to do some analysis.  We looked at the top ten (10) spenders so we know who to target, Madam Presiding Officer.  But after we have done that, there is a little acronym and sometimes being pragmatic is important.  But sometimes it is also important to go back to your little textbook because schooling is rather important.   I see one of my school teachers here this afternoon, so I do not want her to forget in any way that I have not been schooled in some way, shape, form or fashion.  Madam Presiding Officer, there is a little acronym that every tourism professional, particularly a marketing professional should always have a rule of tongue, and that acronym is AIDA (Awareness Interest Desire Action). You see, Madam Presiding Officer, once you would have established who our targets or targeted source markets are and we must know why we are targeting those markets.



Councillor

Thank you very much, Madam Presiding Officer, and before I delve into my contribution this afternoon, kindly permit me to congratulate you on your ascension to the Chair.  [Desk thumping]  It is quite refreshing to see a lady sitting in the Chair.  [Desk thumping]


Madam Presiding Officer, I rise to give support to my Colleague, Secretary and Assemblyman, Tracy Davidson-Celestine.  Not only because we are colleagues but more importantly, because we are Tobagonians. 


Madam Presiding Officer, if it is one thing we around this Horseshoe inculcate is that of our Tobagoness.  We recognize and appreciate that we have a responsibility, a collective responsibility to the people of Tobago  and whenever we rise in this august Chamber, it is for the responsibility to the people of Tobago.


Madam Presiding Officer, tourism is a topic that is extremely hot on the radar these days.  But just as my colleague from Buccoo would have  indicated, Assemblyman Ancil Dennis, it comes as no surprise to me, because it is not only the Tobago House of Assembly who has the responsibility to look at alternative solutions to generating revenue, it is the entire population of Trinidad and Tobago. 


The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is asking the people of Trinidad and Tobago for their ideas, for their thoughts and for their vision as well.  As a matter of fact, the National Tripartite Advisory Council has that role and responsibility.  When you would have thought that it would have treated with matters pertaining to the labour market, the mandate of that Advisory Council has been expanded so wide to embrace ideas of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.  To embrace ideas of every single sector in Trinidad and Tobago including the Labour sector.  Therefore, Madam Presiding Officer, every citizen of Trinidad and Tobago has to appreciate the situation and the circumstance that the nation finds itself at present.  Therefore, we have to embrace the word, “change.”  We have to embrace looking at things differently, we have to embrace the idea of ensuring that we can continue to sustain our lives and our livelihood because we are accustomed to a particular standard of living and in order for us to be able to maintain that standard of living we have to do things differently.


Madam Presiding Officer, according to WTO the International Tourist arrivals grew by four point four percent (4.4%) in 2015 to reach a total of one point two billion (1.2b.) in 2015 - tourist arrivals and that is globally. United Nation (U.N) (WTO) Secretary General Taleb Rifai stated and I quote with your leave:- 


“International tourism reached heights in 2015. The robust performance of the sector is contributing to economic growth and job creation in many parts of the world and thus, critical for countries to promote policies that foster the continued growth of tourism including travel facilitation, human resource development and sustainability.”


Madam Presiding Officer, a statement that supports this Motion and gives credence to the validity of our discourse this afternoon.


The World Travel and Tourism Council, the authority of tourism globally, latest annual research in collaboration with Oxford Economics indicates that travel and tourism’s contribution to the world Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew for the sixth consecutive year in 2015, rising to a total of nine point eight percent (9.8%) of the world GDP, contributing seven point two trillion U.S dollars (U.S$7.2T.), supporting some two hundred and eighty-four (284) million jobs.   This is a clear indication as to the value of the Travel and Tourism Industry on the global economic stage.  Therefore, we can do more and we can obtain more of those tourism receipts that I just made mention of.  


Madam Presiding Officer, we must appreciate and understand that when you are operating a business such as tourism is, at some point in time you are working towards turning over a profit.  It is therefore, time for tourist attractions to start generating and attracting a fee. 


The former speaker, my Colleague, Member for Plymouth/Golden Lane would have made reference to the Plymouth Mysterious Tombstone.   Madam Presiding Officer, it is time for the Mysterious Tombstone in Plymouth to start to attract a fee.  No longer should we have visitors walking into our tourist attractions without paying a fee.  It does not happen globally.  

If we are appreciating that things have to be done differently, let us appreciate that we have to change the statuesque.  No more freeness for tourism, it is a business.


Madam Presiding Officer, as I mentioned before, ENTAC the National Tripartite Advisory Council is asking for ideas.  It might sound strange but I picked up the Oxford Dictionary this morning to look at the meaning of “idea” and according to the Oxford English Dictionary an idea is the main thing you are thinking about, a thought or a suggestion about a possible course of action - a personal view.  


Madam Presiding Officer, have you ever given thought as to what causes ideas to spur on?  Have you?  Is it a fantasy, is it idleness, is it as a  result of necessity?  Is it derived from recognizing that something is lacking or is it because of vision?  What spurs on an idea?  


Do we really appreciate and understand that this thing called, “facebook” this powerful social media electronic tool was brought to life as a result of an idea, Madam Presiding Officer?  Do we understand that? 


Do we really appreciate, understand and realize that our deep water harbour right in Scarborough  (two minutes away from here) has the ability to berth mega cruise ships because of the vision of Arthur Napolean Raymond Robinson and that vision he had for cruise tourism right here in Tobago?  Do we really understand and appreciate that, Madam Presiding Officer? 


Do we understand and appreciate that the late great and successful entrepreneur, Rufus Phillips started his business as a result of necessity he had to feed his family.   We saw how that business grew over the years.



3.24 P.M

Secretary for Settlements and Labour [Desk thumping]

Assemblyman
3.14 P.M

Madam Presiding Officer, we know that Trinidad and Tobago is facing difficult economic times. Therefore, we must try to stabilize the economy through existing ecotourism initiatives at the local level through the enhancement of natural fauna and flora including:


  • Hikes; 

  • Hike trails; 

  • Waterfalls etcetera.  

It would create:


  • Employment; 

It would also contribute to the island’s food security by:


  •  Implementing appropriate Agroforestry Systems;

  • Improvement and preservation of biodiversity; and expanded recreational opportunities we can also derive that. 

 

  • Improve Environmental Health, including carbon sequestration and

Additionally, the island will benefit from: 


  • Rehabilitation of the watershed on which its water supply relies.

Madam Presiding Officer, another area that the Division of Agriculture, Marine Affairs, Marketing and the Environment has and will continue to focus on in promoting economic development on the island, is in the area of the fishing sector.  Madam Presiding Officer, the Division of Agriculture, Marine Affairs, Marketing and the Environment Strategic Plan for the period 2015 – 2020 indicates that one of the sectors weaknesses of the Fishing Industry was insufficient infrastructure at landing sites to sell seafood at a high phytosanitary standard require to meet international standard for export.  Madam Presiding Officer, this shortfall has deprived the island from gaining additional foreign exchange.  With this in mind, the Division stepped into high gear and invested a lot of time and money in providing sufficient infrastructure, investment in fish landing sites, all over the island, with each of them meeting HACCIP standard.  The latest of these facilities, was commissioned in the village of Belle Garden on the March, 17 2016 which is about a month or a little more ago. [Desk thumping]  


Madam Presiding Officer, I am proud to say that these facilities are  operating well, with the Lambeau Facility in particular doing exceptionally well in terms of the amount of fish that is caught and sold at that site.  Things are so good at that site that there is not enough fish there.  The fish does not last for long because of the sanitary condition.   I have experienced it for myself, Madam Presiding Officer, the lines that were there.  I am sure that the Representative for Lambeau/Signal Hill is very grateful of this because he himself would have taken a stroll down at that site and saw the action of the vendors there.  The Division will engage all its fisherfolk in HACCIP Training so that they can be certified and in turn access markets to export fish thus increase economic development on the island.  Madam Presiding Officer, the Fishing Industry went way back, and we have to keep the Fishing Industry going.  With that in mind, the Division will do everything in its power to ensure that the Fishing Industry stay afloat.  


Madam Presiding Officer, as I am on the topic of fishing, the economic development, the development of our culture and preservation of our heritage, it would be remiss of me if I did not speak about Tobago’s most visited tourist attraction, the Nylon Pool, and the Buccoo Reef.

  Madam Presiding Officer, the Buccoo Reef has and still continue to attract tourist for decades from all over the world.  We at the Division are doing all that it takes to preserve this gem for our generation to come.  The Division is currently creating a Marine Park Management Protocol to preserve and control the use of this park.  


Madam Presiding Officer, I want to insist that our people must be able in all ways to utilize what is on the island to the benefit of themselves, their families and the island on a whole.  I want to admonish all of Tobago to ensure that you take charge of the opportunities that are given, that are developed by the Tobago House of Assembly and to utilize them to the fullest to the betterment of yourself.  


Madam Presiding Officer, I want to emphasize again, that the Division of Agriculture, Marketing, Marine Affairs and the Environment support this Motion with the ongoing strong measures, strategies and programmes executed by the Tobago House of Assembly.  


Again, I want to indicate that this Motion could not have come at a more opportune time, in the time when the economy is in a downward mode.  So, with that said, I support the Motion as brought by Assemblyman Tracy Davidson-Celestine and I take my seat at this time. [Desk thumping]



Assemblyman

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer. Let me first congratulate you Madam.


on your ascension to the position of Presiding Officer and to also say, I am grateful as Representative for the Plymouth/Golden Lane area to have a shinning star coming out of that area once again.  [Desk thumping]  It gives me great pleasure, Madam.


Madam Presiding Officer, I stand proudly today to support this Motion on the development of the people of Tobago, their culture, preservation of their heritage and economic development.  This was moved by the Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary for Tourism and Transportation, Representative of Speyside/L’Anse Fourmi/Parlatuvier, Assemblyman Tracy Davidson-Celestine.


Madam Presiding Officer, as the Secretary of Agriculture, Marine Affairs, Marketing and the Environment and the area Representative of Plymouth/Golden Lane, I fully support this Motion specifically Clause 6 and 7 and it reads:


AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House also support those initiatives that promote social and economic development and advance the Tobago economy;


AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House urge the entire Tobago community to take personal responsibility in their way of life to offer authentic and exceptional experiences for Tobagonians and visitors to sustain our economy and protect and preserve our heritage and culture.”


Madam Presiding Officer, I want to tell this august House what we at Plymouth did on Friday April 15th, 2016.  In an effort to preserve our heritage and culture and to educate the youths on how their culture evolved.


Madam Presiding Officer, we invited the elderly and the school children of the two (2) areas, Plymouth/Bethesda to an event entitled; “Bring Back the Old Time Days.”  


At this gathering, the way the senior citizens of Plymouth/Bethesda cooked, used herbal remedies to combat sickness, the standard of life that they lived, the artefacts that were used back then were all re-enacted to us as an example to the children of Plymouth/Bethesda.


One of the main highlights was also the senior citizens recollection of the famous Tombstone, Fort James and other areas like “Lovers Retreat” meant to them back in those days.  The community also came together and built a Dirt Oven so that the young generation could have a first-hand view and taste of their culture.


Madam Presiding Officer, what is important here is this was an avenue that was used to develop our culture, impart awareness into our youths that would in turn preserve our heritage.


Madam Presiding Officer, if each district can emulate in some way or the other what we have achieved at Plymouth then this is one of the ways Tobago can together sustain the development of their culture and the preservation of their heritage.


         Madam Presiding Officer, Plymouth is a village that is rich in history, culture, heritage and sports.  [Laughter] It is my intention to approach my Colleague with responsibility for Tourism and Transportation, Assemblyman Tracy Davidson to establish a museum in Plymouth so that tourist can have a better experience when they visit Plymouth thus increase the economic activity of the area and by extension the island on a whole.


Secretary of Agriculture, Marine Affairs, Marketing and the Environment. [Desk thumping]

3.04 P.M

Because of course, to some extent, the Village Council is expected to play that leadership role in the community.  It is expected to be the organization through which the people can lend their views, lend their support, lend their ideas as it relates to matters within specific communities.   Therefore, we have a situation where only six (6) of the thirty something village councils across Tobago are in fact constitutional, active and having meetings and actually implementing programmes in the communities.  Therefore, we are encouraging – we cannot instruct, all village councils and so far, we have been having results because within recent times I think two (2) or three (3) village councils were able to have their elections and begin to have meetings again where people can come out and partake in the development of their community.  But we have to look at those platforms within the communities to ensure that people are allowed the opportunity to contribute to the development process here in Tobago.


Madam Presiding Officer, I want to end by saying, that as an island, as a people, as leaders, we ought to strive for nothing less than exceptional. 


        Exceptional service, exceptional delivery to the people of Tobago.  As leaders we must strive for exceptional leadership, those working in the Assembly must strive for exceptional punctuality records.  The Supervisors and the managers within the Divisions must strive to ensure that their staff members, those in their charge are given the opportunity, are given the necessary resources to deliver those exceptional performances.   Therefore, I am saying, that as we go forward if we all have the same objective to cause Tobago to be an exceptional destination, once we all have the same mandate, once we all have the same vision for Tobago and once we all buy into the process of not only having Tobago as clean, green, safe and serene but having Tobago as an exceptional and authentic destination then I want to give us the assurance that in the not so distant future we can in fact realize the gains and the benefits of a vibrant tourism sector here in Tobago.


Madam Presiding Officer, with all that said, I want to thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this Motion and I take my seat in support of this Motion.  [Desk thumping]



2.54 P.M

Madam Presiding Officer, I will like to make reference to my past experiences in another place. I want to call the name of the Institution, Republic Bank Limited.  I am sure that some of us bank at Republic Bank.  When I worked at Republic Bank, I had to be at work for 7.50 a.m., anything beyond that, was late.  You come to work 7.51 a.m., you are marked off as late, although the Bank opens at 8.00 a.m.  I am saying that if you came to work late more than twice per month, for six (6) months, you received a warning letter promptly.  If efforts were not made to address those punctuality issues, chances are you might be looking for a work after one (1) year, Madam Presiding Officer.  


Madam Presiding Officer, every six (6) months while I was at Republic Bank, I sat with my Supervisor and every aspect of my performance was reviewed.  Even my smile came up for discussion. 


[Laughter] I am saying I had to treat customers fairly.  Everybody had to receive equal treatment, whether your bank account had a million dollars or whether it was in minus.  I had to smile when customers approached me. I had to go the extra mile to resolve the concerns and the issues of customers and every aspect of that, Madam Presiding Officer, came up for discussion every six (6) months.  In areas where I fell down, I was given the opportunity to improve, and in areas where I performed outstandingly, of  course, I was praised and commended.  But the bottom line is, I was required to get to work on time and I could not leave before designated hour of 4.00 p.m.  Remember bank is closing 2.00 p.m. - even if you finish your work by 3.00/3.30 p.m., you had to stay there and probably assist a co-worker with other responsibilities until it was 4.00 p.m.  As a matter of fact, the only time you got time off, was if there was some kind of emergency or if you gave your supervisor a few days prior notice.

  

But what do we have going on, Madam Presiding Officer, on this island, specifically the public sector which hires approximately sixty/sixty-five percent (60% - 65%).  Therefore, because we have the majority in the public sector, we drive the overall perception of service on the island.  We drive the overall attitudes because we have the majority.  Therefore, we must ask the question, basic things.  Are people coming to work on time within the public sector in Tobago, Tobago House of Assembly?  Are people even required to get to work on time?  Are people working their full quota of


hours on a daily basis?  Or is it that people leave when they want, come when they want etcetera?   I am saying, if we are serious about developing not only tourism but developing Tobago, then that mindset, that attitude, must change.  Therefore, the emphasis, Madam Presiding Officer, has to be on the development of people, have to be on the development of our human capital.  


I am saying, that we can have the best beaches, we can have the best infrastructure in place, nobody will come to our island and when they come here they are not treated with respect, they are not treated with dignity, because in other places, may I suggest that they receive excellent customer service.  


So, in terms of communities, Madam Presiding Officer, the Division of Community Development and Culture is particularly focused on developing our human capital and we have embarked on a number of programmes to achieve this objective.  I want to make reference to one particular Programme and I believe this is very critical to what we are trying to debate and discuss here this afternoon.  Because information coming to me, is that our Vocational Skills Training Programme has attracted over six hundred (600) participants with twenty-three (23) programmes across twenty-four (24) different communities.  I am saying they are training people in various areas. Areas of: 


•Soap making; 

•Natural Jewelry making;  


I visited the Hampden Lowlands Auchenskeoch Multipurpose Facility last evening, and there was a very vibrant programme taking place there in 


•Nail Technology;  


People are also trained in:


•Art and Craft; 

•Garment Construction; 


for those interested in clothes and fashion and that kind of stuff.  Therefore, the effort really is to empower people so that they can acquire a skill and not only acquired that skill, but also monetize it in an effort to create and facilitate greater entrepreneurship here on this island.   Therefore, the results so far, Madam Presiding Officer, is in fact encouraging.


Therefore, I want to congratulate all the various staff members within the Division, the Secretary of the Division, the Administrator and all those that are working hard to ensure that these programmes come off and not only that they come off, but that they come off successfully.


Madam Presiding Officer, as we look as well, at the development of our tourism product and as we focus on empowering people, there is a need for us to also focus on the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) within communities.  I always said that as a Tobago House of Assembly, we cannot do it by ourselves.  As a matter of fact, there are some things that we can and will do and there are other things that we must facilitate, meaning that we must provide the resources, the financial resources, the technical resources so that others can actually do and implement the work.  Therefore, as a Division, we are open to all NGOs, all CBOs across communities in Tobago to come to us with proposals, come to us with suggestions for programmes and we will do our part to ensure that you the people are empowered with the skills that you are   

empowered with the assistance necessary whether technical or financial to ensure that the programmes that you will like to have in your communities are implemented successfully.  Therefore, in order for us to achieve this objective, of having Tobago as an authentic and exceptional destination, all of us must play our part.  All of us must take responsibility.  That is basically the heart and the meat of the matter, Madam Presiding Officer.   I am saying that if all of us take responsibility for our own action, then in fact Tobago and Trinidad and Tobago by extension, will in fact be a better place.  Therefore, as an Assembly, we have a responsibility to not only provide programmes that will facilitate human capital development, but we want to provide the platforms and the processes necessary to allow people to contribute and for people to partake in the developmental process.  Therefore, we ought to look at the level of the community, the Division is actively looking at the whole issue of Community Councils and Village Councils.




Thank you very much, Madam Presiding Officer.   Of course, let me start by congratulating you on the assumption of your new position as Presiding Officer of the Tobago House of Assembly.


Let me also congratulate the mover of this Motion for a very comprehensive contribution as it relates to the Motion before us this afternoon.


Madam Presiding Officer, I want to suggest to us that we should not be surprise now that the focus is on tourism and to some extent Agriculture, because when we look back at our history as a country, Trinidad and Tobago, you will recognize that there have been much talk about diversifying our economy away from this dependence on energy.  Therefore, it should not surprise us that during this challenging economic time, during this period of decreasing oil prices, during this period of people losing jobs 

especially in Trinidad that as a people, we are now looking seriously at alternatives as we attempt to diversify our economy away from almost a complete and total dependence on energy.


Madam Presiding Officer, therefore, it is an opportune time for us as a people to begin to look at the alternatives.  Interestingly, in the Bible there was a particular lady who was going through a difficult period.  She was going through a challenge, she was probably having a recession (we can refer to it as that) exactly what we are facing now and interestingly, a particular Prophet asked her a very simple question and the question was, “What do you have in your hand?”


      Therefore, I want to begin my contribution by asking all of us, those around the table, those in the Chamber and the people of Tobago, those listening outside of this Chamber - “What do you have in your hand?”  “What do we as a people have in our hand?”  Because I want to suggest could exactly what you, what I, what we have in our hand. 


      I want to specifically look at the island of Tobago and I count it a tremendous blessing to have been born and bred right here in Buccoo, Tobago and I believe all of us should count it as a blessing to be a part, to be citizens, to be residents of this beautiful island Tobago.  Because I have been to a few places around the world, a few countries and I want to suggest that Tobago is probably the most beautiful, the most naturally beautiful island in the Caribbean.  [Desk thumping]   If you go to Charlotteville (using Charlotteville as an example) and you look at the natural Flora, we look at  the breathtaking views across to Man-of-War Bay or you come down to Parlatuvier or you come down to Castara or you come all the way down to Buccoo Point, Tobago is indeed a beautiful place.  Of course, the Heritage mantra, the mantra of the Tobago Heritage Festival, “She Becomes More Beautiful.”  Madam Presiding Officer, but Tobago only becomes more beautiful, when we the people becomes more beautiful.  And of course, as I said before, the island is naturally beautiful. 


       You could have a nice house, Madam Presiding Officer, porcelain, tiles, granite countertops, garage to hold four cars but if the people within that house, Madam Presiding Officer, are not living in unity and not living with love then you can have a beautiful breathtaking physical structure but the experience within that house would not be a pleasant experience.


So therefore, the experience, Madam Presiding Officer, that visitors have when they come to Tobago does not only depend on the quality of our beaches, it does not only depend on the breathtaking panoramic views in certain parts of Tobago, it does not only depend on our roads and infrastructure but it depends on we, the people.   It depends on our attitudes towards each other, it depends on our attitudes towards the visitors that come here from time to time and it depends on our mindsets as individuals.


       Therefore, I want to address the issue of attitude and the issue of mindset.  Because all of us around this table, we have been elected by the people of Tobago to carry out responsibilities and you all have responsibilities in various Divisions and therefore, when things go in a particular direction, when things go well we are praised and congratulated but of course, when things do not go particularly well we ought to take responsibility as the Leaders of Tobago.  


      I want to suggest, that the people around this horseshoe, all of us, must begin to take responsibility for the attitudes, for the mindsets that pervade our society here in Tobago because we are talking tourism and we are talking visitors coming to our island.  But what are the experiences that we fellow Tobagonians have when we go to certain institutions here in Tobago?  What are the experiences that we have when we walk into various Divisions of the Tobago House of Assembly?  Are individuals at work on time, with a smile on their face, ready and willing to serve you the local residents much less the visitors?  What are the experiences?  What are the experiences we have when we jump into the various taxis?  Are the drivers pleasant, do they have a smile on their face?  What are those experiences, Madam Presiding Officer?  What are the experiences we have with our fellow neighbours?  Do we look out for each other in our communities?  Do we have our brothers and our sisters back?  If we see our neighbour’s children stumbling or doing something wrong, do we make an attempt to correct them?   Do we look out for each other in our communities or is it that once our house is secured and we close up at nights we are not concerned about the neighbour living next to us.  


What are the various mindsets of Tobagonians, Madam Presiding Officer, as it relates to how we treat our brothers?  Do we really love our neighbours?   Because again, I want to make the point that the same way we treat the person next to us, we are likely to treat with our visitors, those that we depend on to drive our Tourism sector.  Therefore, some of the mindsets that we have as a people in order of us to really build a tourism sector, in order for us to diversity our economy and begin to build our sectors such as agriculture, again and tourism as a people, I want to suggest that some of the mindsets and some of the attitudes must change almost immediately.


Therefore, I want to urge all of us around this Table and even the very Administrators within Divisions to begin to pay particular attention to some of the basic issues.   Basic issues like punctuality.



2.44 P.M

Assistant Secretary of Community Development and Culture.  [Desk thumping]

Assemblyman

Thank you Madam Presiding Officer.

  

We have: 

  • The Blue Food Festival as well which is celebrated in the latter parts of the year.  It is one of our culinary events hosted by the Division in collaboration again with quite a number of different villages, like  L ‘Anse Fourmi; Bloody Bay; Parlatuvier etcetera to name a few.  Our survey report says, that, over six thousand (6000) attendees have been coming to these activities.  There is a major shift in demographics to a wider cross section of the society and quite a number of our domestic visitors are also coming to the Jazz Festival as well The Culinary Festival is something that we are treating with at this time; 

  • We have the Dragon Boat Competition as well where we partnered with the Chinese Community and there are a number of different festivals that we treat with from time to time.  

  • The implementation of the Scarborough Trail Project is on the way;  


Most of the things that we have set out to do are almost complete; and we expect to launch 


  • The Scarborough Heritage Trail Heritage Project very soon.  

Our Division is at this time working towards treating with the Fort King George as a revenue generating activity and facility.  We have already purchased the costumes that were used in the film 1677.  We are trying to create an experience there that gives you the history of the Fort in a dramatized kind of theoretical style;


  • The Fine Arts Centre is completed and we are waiting for the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and those kind of arrangements to launch that Programme in May/June of this year, Madam Presiding Officer.  


I see Dr. Guy in the midst with: 


  • The completion of the Scarborough Rockley Bay Conservatory Project;  


But the point must be made, Madam Presiding Officer, before I take my seat, that the Division, the Tobago House of Assembly led by the Honourable Orville London are very focused on developing Tobago on developing people in a developing Tobago.   


We have our 


  • Comprehensive Economic Development Plan that sets out certain priorities, that sets out certain pillars, and one of those pillars is to treat with Human Resources Development in a particular way.  


      We in the Division of Tourism and Transportation, we are treating with Human Resources Development.  But most importantly, we are treating and we stand very resolute in executing our mandate which speaks to the development of the tourism sector and creating an unrivalled and unmatched experience, Madam Presiding Officer.  


       We continue to remain committed, we are creating opportunities for our people, but we will expect at the end of the day that our people capitalize on the opportunities through the collaboration. There are a number of different programmes within the Division, number of different programmes in other Divisions that can help us to build the skill, that can help us to build the competence so that if it is we are trying to create a business sector in the tourism sector, we also have programmes and initiatives that can facilitate that as much as possible.  So we expect people to capitalize and we expect most importantly, that Tobagonians will come on board and to capitalize on the opportunities in a particular way. 


This is my contribution, Madam Presiding Officer, and I take my seat and I allow my other Colleagues to give me the support in this Motion this afternoon.


Thank you. [Desk thumping]


Question proposed



You have five (5) more minutes.

Assemblyman
2.34 P.M

Although this initiative has proven effective, Madam Presiding Officer, we have recognized the need for further development.  Consequently, we have launched an Education Awareness Programme that seeks to target the wider Tobago community about the benefits to be derived from Tourism.  But most importantly, the roles that one must play in treating with a visitor and the resident alike. [Desk thumping]  So, this Programme is intended to stimulate appreciation for tourism as I said and the ultimate initiative is to allow locals to provide greater service and even capitalized on business and entrepreneurial opportunities. 


Madam Presiding Officer, the Division of Tourism and Transportation hosts and supports a variety of events, festivals and activities year round and at the same time we continue to look at more sustainable ways to deliver our events and programmes in keeping with international standards.  So, our objective is to create an experience that appeals to all market segments as we look to attract visitors to our shore year round.  Moving forward, we have 

already completed an evaluation process that will see us realign our involvement to ensure our support delivers on a number of funds on our strategic objectives are met moving forward. Against this backdrop, some of our major events undertaken are as follows: - 


  • The Tobago Jazz Experience; 


I would have just spoken about the Tobago Jazz Experience, in terms of the contribution that it is making to the Tobago economy, in terms of the Tobago House of Assembly investment, but most importantly, in terms of the contribution that it is making to respective communities who continuously look forward to the experience because they benefit.  It is common knowledge that a significant number of tourist and visitors from Trinidad come to Tobago to savour our local product.  If I can recall I think the repeat visitorship to the Tobago Experience is somewhere in the vicinity of seventy-five/eighty one percent (75% to 81%), Madam Presiding Officer.  We have the Blue Food Festival as well… [Interruption] 



Assemblyman
2.24 P.M

Madam Presiding Officer, Tourism and Culture are inextricable linked, just like Tourism and Transport and it bodes well for destinations that recognize this.  Studies have consistently shown that Cultural Heritage travellers stay longer and they spend more money than any other kind of travellers because they are looking for experiences.   They want to sample our cuisines; they want to go into different villages and see the way of life; they want to experience what we live and probably that is one of the reasons why you find that so many persons just love the Castara Experience.


When I went walking in Castara just a few weeks ago, I went down to Depot Road and was talking to one of the guys and he said that from since last October there has not been one available room in the community of Castara.   So, people are travelling more now than ever for that kind of experience.   So, our good cultural Heritage Tourism product also improves the quality of life for residents while serving our visitors.  


Other relevant literature also defines Cultural Tourism as a specific type of tourism that embraces the culture of our people including their: 


  • History; 

  • Traditional practices; 

  • Dance; 

  • Music;

  • Art; 

  • Craft;

  • Architecture and basically defining a community unique way of life.  


Therefore, tourism and in particular, Cultural Tourism must be seen within the wider realm of Community Tourism and sustainable tourism development.   What we want is the expansion of linkages between tourism and culture which is fundamental to inclusive economic growth, social development and even cultural preservation for our economy.


Madam Presiding Officer, there are some benefits and I alluded to some of them before - creating jobs and businesses.  We can diversify the local economy; we can create opportunities for partnerships perhaps; we can attract visitors interested in history and in preservation, Tobago has changed hands over thirty-one (31) times and I am very sure there is a story there to be told. 


Increasing historic attraction revenues; preserving local traditions and culture; generating local investment in historic resources and of course, building community pride in our heritage.


Madam Presiding Officer, those are some of the benefits we can receive from the whole Cultural Tourism Thrust.  So the reality is, that it  creates a number of possibilities for communities throughout Tobago and therefore, it is critical that all communities maximize on these opportunities to generate creative ways to partner with the Division of Tourism and Transportation as we try to work hand in hand to create the Community Tourism Thrust.


Madam Presiding Officer, the question begs, how do we and how can we as a people capitalize on the opportunities within the Tourism sector and within the wider Tobago community and all inclusive economic growth?   The literature says rather that economic growth must be inclusive to ensure the well-being of an entire population.   


Inclusive growth generates decent jobs, it distributes the gain from prosperity more equally and it provides opportunity for all segments of our society.  So, with this knowledge, again the Comprehensive Economic Development Plan is our guiding framework by which the Division of Tourism and Transportation (DoTT has been profiling the destination of Tobago.


As a service driven sector, the quality and quantity of the product is determined by how each and everyone of us performs in our respective roles.


 In essence, the industry does not stop at only those engaged or involved with hotels, guesthouses and transportation and the range of ancillary services.   It further includes all of us in the Division – the man and the woman on the street, every child in every community because at the end of the day, we have to all see ourselves as ambassadors who are part of a highly competitive industry and as such, we have to constantly assess and reassess ourselves.  What contribution are we making?  Are we making a contribution to the development of Tobago?  Are we making a contribution to the development of the tourism sector?   That is why you find there are so many successes in countries like, perhaps, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mauritius and even Grenada - our neighbour right there.  Every man on the street understand the role that they need to play; every man on the street understand that in order for a visitor to come back, we must create a perception that says, “Tobago is ready for business; Tobago is ready to receive visitors; whether it is through a smile; whether it is being polite; whether it is giving direction to a resident or even a foreigner in a particular way, we all have a role to play in enabling an environment that will see persons coming back to our destination.


Madam Presiding Officer, ultimately, as a Division we will do our job at facilitating the industry and so, in facilitating the industry we must work hand in hand with our stakeholders and we must work hand in hand with our partners in the exercise.


Madam Presiding Officer, let us look at social development within the context of the domestic platform.   Our core objective is to develop closer collaboration as I said with relevant Divisions. 


That is why the Secretary of Agriculture, Marine Affairs and the Environment will speak because he also plays a very crucial role in leading his Division in treating with those things that affect the visitor experience or that affects the work and the execution of the work of the Division of Tourism and Transportation.  We need collaboration with the local associations:   


  • The bed and breakfast;

  • The hotel sector;

  • The restaurants;

  • The maxi taxi drivers; and

  • The bar owners.

  • The communities.


The Community Tourism approach:  


  • Buccoo; 

  • Black Rock; 

  • Golden Lane; and 

  • Tobago on a whole. 


     We need collaboration with the stakeholders on the ground as 

tourism can bring endless benefits to us.  It can result in long term sustainable partnerships for social development and sustainability.


I must say however, that this is exemplified in the collaboration that we have shared with the Division of Community Development and Culture during the cruise ship season.  They would have worked hand in hand with us to ensure that when the visitor comes whether they are from France or Germany or the UK that they would have gotten a taste of the culture.


Madam Presiding Officer, on the Port there was the pan, the limbo, there was music, art and craft and food.   So that one coming can take back with them that Tobago culture and Tobago is worth coming back to.


We are mindful of the significance of community tourism within our product offering.  And so, community and responsible tourism are integral to effect sustainability of the local tourism product.  It is one of the more recent 

global thrust of tourism, it is holistic and so, it targets intergenerational development at all levels.  And so, at the heart of community tourism is economic development, community integration, socio-economic empowerment and a value added experience for our local and foreign visitors.


Over the years, we have provided small grants assistance to non-profit organizations in Tobago to undertake tourism related initiatives such as the rehabilitation of historical sites and relics within their respective villages.







Assemblyman
2.14 P.M

That information resides in the Division of Tourism and Transportation.  So of that amount, twenty-three percent (23%) are Tobagonians, only twenty-three (23%), sixty-one percent (61%) of them are from Trinidad and the other percentage coming from the rest of the world.   Our challenge, Madam Presiding Officer, is really with international tourist arrivals, those who stay at the hotel.  That is where we are having the greatest challenges at this time.  It is for a number of different reasons.  We have lost a major hotel which is  Hilton.  Apart from that, we have lost two (2) major flights both Monarch and Apollo.  Monarch will come in with loads in the vicinity of ninety-eight/ninety-nine percent (98 – 99%) on a weekly basis.  That is basically a full plane, Madam Presiding Officer.   Through no fault of the members of staff of the Division of Tourism and Transportation, we have lost those significant properties and airlines that would have brought a significant number of tourists and visitors to the destination. But we are not sitting down on our hands.


That is why we have purchased Sanctuary Resort which will give us four to four and a half star rooms and that is why the Division would have gone out and negotiated with Condor to give us an additional flight from Munich and also Thomas Cook to give us a flight coming out from Manchester, Madam Presiding Officer.  We are in discussions with other airlines to treat with a direct service from Scandinavia to Tobago.  So, Madam Presiding Officer, we have the information within our Division.  We have the information to support the work we do.  It may not be perfect and the information that we communicate to the public, is credible information.   But I must make the point that we continuously work to treat with any shortcomings that we have with our Research Unit and that is through Dr. Ralph Henry who is working with us to deal with the Tourism Dash Board.

Madam Presiding Officer, as I moved to the substance of this Motion this evening, I want to remind Tobagonians that our cultural heritage depicts who we are as a people and ultimately, it defines our purpose.  So, “Destination Tobago” properly branded as “The Capital of Paradise” and even, can be easily argued as one of the “Gems of the Caribbean.”  We have a vibrant cultural heritage here, we have a rich historical legacy which spans many decades and even more so, it is not by accident that Tobago has embraced the mantra of being a “Clean, Green, Safe, and Serene” island.  


So, over the years, we in the Division of Tourism and Transportation have been successfully able to leverage our bountiful resources to position Tobago as a Mecca for scuba divers and an idealic backdrop for weddings and honeymoons and the perfect setting for outdoor adventure - Birding, eco and with the oldest protected, “rain forest” and the largest known, “brain coral” in the Western Hemisphere.  The island’s strong desire  to  hold on to its tradition have caused many visitors and observers to refer that Tobago is representative of the true Caribbean and this distinction has given us as tourism planners, the enviable opportunity to be poised to offer a unique and competitive package, Madam Presiding Officer.   

 

So, I am very pleased this afternoon as I contribute to this Motion, that Tobago regardless of what has been said, Madam Presiding Officer, continue to remain a destination that has a good name in the International World.  We have been the recipient of several Travel and Eco Excellence Awards: 


  • In 2003 the destination was voted as the No. 1. Eco Destination in the Caribbean; 

  • The World’s Leading Eco Tourism Destination for four (4) consecutive years from 2003 – 2006;  

  • The World’s Leading Green Destination in 2007 and 2009 respectively; 

  • Awards which can be attributed to a natural wonder, the main ridge forest; 


and further 


  • In 2012, Tobago was voted “The Island of the Year” by the Caribbean World Travel and Living.


So, we have been making our mark.  We have been making our strides, Madam Presiding Officer, in this one hundred and sixteen (116) square miles of pristine beauty.  


Our hotels have also received quite a number of awards, the Magdelena Gran Beach Resort; Coco Reef for instance would have won a prestigious 2015 World Travel Market Award in London, Madam Presiding Officer, I can go on and on. 

 

So, having recognize some of the highlights of our Tourism Industry, it would be remiss of me if I fail to recognize the sterling contributions to the  area of Heritage and Culture, by icons such as, Dr. Susan Craig-James and the late Dr. J. D. Elder who would have made immense contributions to the preservation of this islands history and heritage for present and even future generations, Madam Presiding Officer. 


So, as I said in my earlier delivery, that this debate comes at an opportune time, Madam Presiding Officer, because the island and the country by extension is navigating.  We are navigating through the challenges of fallen revenues and we all know the reasons why we have the rapid decline in revenues at this point in time.  But there is an opportunity, Madam Presiding Officer, and that opportunity is through Tourism.  But it cannot happen only with the Tobago House of Assembly and the members of staff in the Division of Tourism and Transportation, it has to be each and every one of us in Tobago singing from the same tune that in order to capitalize on this opportunity, that we all must work hand in hand and collaboratively in building the tourism sector and taking this sector forward.  So, there are a number of different trends, where tourism is projected to increase, whether it might be five point eight percent (5.8%) in 2015; and even in 2016 and as well, it is likely to grow by another six percent (6%), Madam Presiding Officer.  But we can all benefit here.  We can also benefit if we were to position ourselves in a manner where more tourists can come to this destination.


Madam Presiding Officer, I want to emphasize here today, that Cultural Heritage Tourism takes on a particular urgency during an economic downturn.  In tough economic times, collaborative participation by everyone in the community is especially necessary to make the most out of what we have in terms of our resources.  Tourism therefore, could undoubtedly play a significant role in meeting the challenges of the energy sector and the diversification of the Tobago economy as I said, to benefit the citizenry.  The sector has endless scope for creativity, it has endless scope for revenue generation and we are very cognizant of this.  We recognized that Tobago’s authentic product offering and unspoiled nature are appealing to both visitors and our travel industry partners.  We also know the product offerings of our regional partners and so we continue to be strategic in our approaches to promote the island, in offering experiences rather than just selling, sea, sun and sand.  That is why we have the brand, “Live the Culture Tobago Style.”  That connotes doing things the Tobagonian way.  It refers to an authentic visitor experience to be had by those who visit our beautiful and pristine island.  It also posits that culture is of great significance and relevance.  This is why it has been placed in the hearts of the latest University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), Advertising Thrust it is incumbent on our people and this island to protect what we have and to take pride in what we can share in this world.






Assemblyman
2.04 P.M

And so, the net investment of three to five million dollars ($3 – 4m.), must take into consideration not only the expenditure for Jazz but also the revenues that are to be received as a result of staging the Jazz Festival.  So she was in fact referring to the cost.  I am referring to the cost minus the revenue which will give you the Tobago House of Assembly’s net investment of between three to five million dollars ($5m.).   That is what was said. 


She is not wrong as well as the Secretary is not wrong except that she is talking about the cost and I am referring to the Tobago House of Assembly’s net investment and so, that is what the Administrator did not go on to say.


       Madam Presiding Officer, I also want to make the point here today, that the Tobago Jazz Experience and the profitability is not only to be measured by the revenues that you receive within the Division of Tourism and Transportation or the one and one vote within the Assembly but it also has to be measured by the contribution that the Tobago Jazz Experience makes to the economy of Tobago.   So, things like the occupancy levels must be taken into consideration and I am speaking here after the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association, they have said that it is in the vicinity of eighty percent (80%) and above for the period of Jazz.


        Our Survey Report from 2015 spoke to one thousand, three hundred and fifty dollars ($1,350) being contributed to the Tobago economy per person from those who have come for the Jazz Festival.

        We also have to measure the Jazz Festival in terms of the Community Tourism contribution because this allows residents within the community an opportunity to apply their trade. Over seventy (70) suppliers would have come out to sell food, to sell beverages, to sell arts and craft, to sell quite a number of things and they would have benefited significantly from the Tobago Jazz Experience. So, I have said that the Tobago Jazz Experience in its sixth (6th) year continues to make its contribution to the Tobago economy.

     When we are measuring the Jazz it cannot only be whether the Tobago House of Assembly or the Division of Tourism and Transportation has received five million dollars ($5m.) in ticket sales or whether we have received two point two million dollars ($2.2m.) in sponsorship. No! We have to go further than that and we have to look at what the man on the street is making from Jazz; we have to look at what the hotels are making from Jazz and most importantly, we have to look at what all of Tobago and its residents are making from Jazz and our survey report shows that the Tobago Jazz Experience is in fact making its contributions. Then again, sixteen million ($16m.) or three to five million dollars ($3 – 5 m.TT) is a  small drop in the bucket for a Tobago Jazz Experience that is contributing so significantly to the economy.


If you look at the St. Lucia Jazz for instance, they are spending just about fifty million TT dollars to have their Jazz Festival and all we are spending – the Tobago House of Assembly’s investment is in the vicinity of three to five million dollars.  And so, when you compare our investment to what is happening even within the Caribbean, Madam Presiding Officer, it compares favorably.


Let us look at the Research Unit.   Every time I speak, I would mention that we are working on treating with building the capacity within our Research Unit.  We are looking at improving the capabilities hence the reason why we have Doctor Ralph Henry working with us.  He has done his evaluation, he has recommended that we should have a number of different levels of staff, remunerators that kind of thing that we ought to have more modern technology handheld information so that when the visitor comes and we survey them we can readily put in the information.  We are working towards a Tourism Dashboard that will give us timely information for us to make the decisions within the Division but the Research Unit has been performing with the resources that they currently have.  They are at this point in time providing us with information even despite the challenges to make proper and reasonable judgments in our decisions.



I had a discussion with the Research Officer today, and she has outlined all of the things that they have been doing in the Research Unit which includes:-


1.Cruise sector reports.

2.They look at the spend on the island;

3.The demographic information;

4.The size of the groups that come;

5.The type of tours; and even the rating of the sites.


Last year or year before, when I said that the visitors who come on cruise, rate Tobago very favourably.   It was as a result of the exit survey report received by the Research Unit.   When I speak to the spend from the Cruise Sector it is as a result of information received from the Research Unit.  When I speak of the number of persons who come to the destination via cruise ship it is as a result of the information collated from the Research Unit.


They also do Yacht Reports and so, we have information about where the yachtees are coming from.  It shows that most of them are coming from France.   So that tells us now that our people in Tobago must learn at some point in time to speak French because initially we were focusing solely well apart from English we were focusing on Spanish and to a larger extent on  German – the German language.  We are now seeing quite a lot of yachtees coming in from France and so that will tell its own story eventually, Madam Presiding Officer.


Direct Passenger Arrivals, Tourist arrivals – both Trinidad and Tobago.  There are forms that map how many Tobagonians travel, how many Trinidadians come to Tobago, where the visitors are from in large part, whether it be UK (United Kingdom), whether it be Germany, they do occupancy reports – I mean, we have our challenges with the Occupancy Report because there is a fear within the Accommodation Sector that we will utilize the data for perhaps tax purposes, I am not so sure and so you would find that the sample size for the occupancy report is not as large as we would have want it but at the end of the day, we have some information that says to us, “This is what the occupancy levels are at in Tobago at a particular time.”


Even Event Mapping - so things like the Blue Food, the Jazz and we agreed that we will now start mapping things like the Heritage Festival because the Division has a sort of inward focus where they tend to focus solely on things that the Division of Tourism and Transportation is implementing.   I would have indicated to them that even those things that we are not solely responsible for we also need to look to see how many persons are coming in for those particular activities.


In Direct International Arrivals – we also captured that information.  And so, when I speak, Madam Presiding Officer, I speak with the backings of information coming from the Research Unit within the Division of Tourism and Transportation.

Source marketing information is all captured in our resource information with the highest percentages in terms of International Arrivals coming from the United Kingdom followed by Germany.

  

Madam Presiding Officer, our research tells us, that from 2006 to 2015, total passenger arrivals have moved from seven hundred and ninety thousand (790,000) to one million (1m.) passengers. 




Assemblyman
1.54 P.M

This Comprehensive Economic Development Plan also speaks to a number of different outcomes:


(1)  A well-defined vibrant and competitive tourism sector; 

(2)  A more diversified and sustained sector; and

(3)  The sectors current dependence on domestic tourism which must be balanced by increased diversification within the sector.  


The Comprehensive Economic Development Plan, Madam Presiding Officer, goes on to highlight objectives which speak to: 


  • To recovery of the International Tourism Market;

  • The addition of one thousand, five hundred (1500) high quality hotels and guest rooms; 

  • Recovery of loss niches that may have happen over the years; and 

  • Stay over visitors spending increasing by at least twenty-five percent (25%).

        So, Madam Presiding Officer, there are a number of initiatives and actions that have been highlighted in the Comprehensive Economic Development Plan in our Operational Plan of the Division of Tourism and Transportation and most importantly, our Strategic Plan, all of which are highlighted here today. So, in all of my Motions within the last three (3) years, I have been referring to how we treat with different aspects of the Division, different aspects of the initiatives and actions, all outlined in these operational plans, Madam Presiding Officer.


       So, when the Division would have taken the decision to purchase “Sanctuary” and to purchase “Manta Lodge”, it was in an effort to implement the initiatives and the actions that are outlined in the Comprehensive Economic Development Plan that speaks to “increasing and upgrading hotels and guest house room stock in Tobago.” So the Tobago House of Assembly through the Division of Tourism and Transportation would have expended thirty two million dollars ($32m.) to add about eighty (80) or so rooms to the destination. We have recognized over the years that we need to increase the room stock, but more importantly to ensure that we have quality room stock on this island. So, the purchase of the Sanctuary will add more rooms and we expect that at the end of the refurbishment, we will have four, four and a half star rooms on the island.


       Similarly, with Manta Lodge, I expect that at the end of the Upgrade Programme, Madam Presiding Officer, there will be three and three and a half star rooms on the island.  All of this we have been doing, is in an effort to implement the initiatives and the actions.  


      When we took the decision in the Division of Tourism and Transportation to sign on with the Tourism Development Company, and also the Ministry of Tourism to have the Room Upgrade Programme in Tobago, the twenty-five (25%) Room Upgrade Programme, it is because we were realizing the initiatives and the actions in the Comprehensive Economic Development Plan which again speaks to upgrading hotels and guest house room stock in Tobago.  When in the Division of Tourism and Transportation we budgeted to assist quite a number of different properties throughout the year, it was all in an effort to achieve the objective of increasing upgrade of hotel and room stock here on this island.  So, all the work that we have been doing, is in keeping with:


  • The National Tourism Policy; 

  • The Tobago Comprehensive Economic Development Plan; and

  • With the Divisional Operational Plan and the Strategic Plan of  the Division.

       Madam Presiding Officer, when we speak about improving customer service within the sector on a whole, and the Tourism Industry more specifically, this is what the plan highlights. We have been investing heavily in training, not only within the Division, but outside of the Division of Tourism and Transportation.  We have regular training programmes for our taxi drivers, for our tour operators, we have the Tobago Hotel and Tourism Institute that is also responsible for training the members who are involved in the Tourism Sector so that we can treat with the issue of improving customer service delivery within the sector.  So, millions of dollars have been spent on a yearly basis to treat with the objectives, to treat with the initiatives and even the actions as articulated and highlighted in the Comprehensive Economic Development Plan.  It speaks to creating ways to monetarize the festivals, that is what we have been doing with the Jazz Festival, and I will come to that, Madam Presiding Officer.  So the objectives of a well-defined, vibrant and competitive  tourism sector, the objectives of treating with the Sector dependent on  domestic tourism by ensuring that we have a balanced product is the work currently of the Division of Tourism and Transportation.  So, in listening to the presentation and even in some of the comments by members of the public, I want to let the public know that the Division of Tourism and Transportation has a framework that would have come through the process of consultations, both externally and internally and that continues to remain the framework upon which we treat with the Tobago House of Assembly’s business.


      Madam Presiding Officer, the issue of the Tourism Regulatory Framework is one of the issues that we currently have before us at this time.  Within the Division of Tourism and Transportation, we have held over five (5) interviews looking for a legal mind to join the Division of Tourism and Transportation to help us to draft the Regulatory Framework so that we can have it approved at the Executive Council, at the Chamber and then forward it to Parliament for it to be dealt with.  But of all the persons we have interviewed, to date, none have showed up to take up the job as the Legal Officer. 


      So I would have indicated to my relatively new Administrator, when she came on board just about two (2) months ago, that we now need to look at how we can outsourced the Legal Tourism Regulatory Framework because we need to ensure that we have the standards, we need to ensure that we have the legislation so that we can enforce them so that the sector can be developed and can move in a particular way.  When you look at it, there are really no laws both in Trinidad and Tobago that treats with the Regulatory Framework for the development of Tourism and Transportation and that is something that both islands are lacking at this point in time. 


     However, through the Tourism Development Act, there is a Clause there where we can treat with how we fund different accommodation, different properties, and even we have the authority to withhold things like, duty free allowance for properties that are not operating properly or properties that are not providing excellent services to their guest and residence alike.  So the point here, Madam Presiding Officer, is that we in the Division are treating with the Tourism Regulatory Framework, we have indicated to the Minister that we will need all support in the process, because it is something that will have to be taken to Parliament. 


     Madam Presiding Officer, I want to move on to clear the misconception of my information with regards to the Tobago Jazz Experience 2016.  My statement that the Tobago House of Assembly’s investment in the Jazz Festival is within the vicinity of three to five million dollars ($3m–$5m.). Also, comparing that Statement with the Administrator’s Statement of sixteen million dollars ($16m.).  Now, the Administrator is very correct.  The allocation or the budget rather for the Tobago Jazz Experience, stands at sixteen million dollars ($16m.) but what the Administrator did not go on to say, is that after things such as gate receipts; sales of tickets; receipts from concessionaires; sponsorship; the Tobago House of Assembly’s investment will be reduced to three to five million dollars ($3m – $5m.).



Assemblyman

Thank you very much, Madam Presiding Officer, for the opportunity to move this Motion standing in my name here this afternoon.  But before I move to the Motion, I want to use the opportunity to offer sincerest congratulations to you on your ascension to the Chair as “Presiding Officer” and I must state that I do look forward to your leadership in the management of this House.  [Desk thumping]


Madam Presiding Officer, this Motion comes at a time when all eyes are on the Division of Tourism and Transportation and that is happening for a number of reasons.   We recently held the Tobago Jazz Experience in the Division and because of the Division’s performance at the Joint Select Committee’s inquisition yesterday.


Madam Presiding Officer, I want to use the opportunity to say publicly that I am very pleased with the level of passion and the firm conviction by Members of the public that the Tourism Sector needs to do much better.  But in all of this, Madam Presiding Officer, we must be cognizant that the development of the sector rest with each and everyone of us.  And so, collaboration is important and more than that, each and everyone of us has a significant role to play in shaping the perceptions to investing in the sector all in a bid to make it relevant and even more competitive.  


As the Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary with responsibilities for Tourism and Transportation, I am taking this opportunity to clear up on some misinformation and even misgivings about our work in the Division and I wish to indicate that despite the perception, the Division remains resolute and firm in our quest and our role to treat with the management of the sector in a particular way.  [Desk thumping]


Today, Madam Presiding Officer, I present the Motion:-


WHEREAS the Tobago experience offers a distinct harmonious blend of cultures, eclectic cuisine and environmental treasures, which continue to attract visitors of all ages to its shores;


AND WHEREAS Tobago is an exemplary Caribbean destination with secluded beaches, quaint villages, adequate accommodation, and award-winning eco attractions;


AND WHEREAS the real wonder of Tobago is the people, who are progressive, resilient and have held on to their identity and cultural traditions through the centuries to create exceptional and memorable experiences;


AND WHEREAS the Tobago House of Assembly has a responsibility to develop a pool of opportunities to sustain the customs of self-sufficiency and community through education and programmes to engage Tobagonians for social and economical development;


BE IT RESOLVED that this House support the Assembly, and other groups, institutions and individuals in those programmes, strategies and efforts to focus on the people of Tobago for the development of their culture and the preservation of their heritage;


AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House also support those initiatives that promote social and economic development and advance the Tobago economy;


AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House urge the entire Tobago community to take personal responsibility in their way of life to offer authentic and exceptional experiences for Tobagonians and visitors to sustain our economy and protect and preserve our heritage and culture.”


Madam Presiding Officer, and so, this Motion will speak specifically to not only cultural tourism but to what we have been treating with in the Division of Tourism and Transportation and most importantly, it will be supported by other Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries with responsibilities who help to shape the development of the tourism sector.


Madam Presiding Officer, every opportunity I have, I speak to the policy framework for the Division of Tourism and Transportation.  I refer to the National Tourism Policy; I refer to the Comprehensive Economic Development Plan and most importantly, I refer to the Internal Documents of the Division of Tourism and Transportation which are the Strategic Plan and the Operational Plan all of which I have in my possession today.


Madam Presiding Officer, those pieces of documents which have the views of the people because they were developed through consultation are what guide the operation, the strategy and more so, the vision, the implementation of the vision in the Division of Tourism and Transportation.


Madam Presiding Officer, if one was to examine the Comprehensive Economic Development Plan, one would see that it speaks to a vision, a vision which speaks to ensuring that Tobago is well sought after for its tourism products which will be internationally renound and competitive as a premiere eco-tourism destination.

Secretary of Tourism and Transportation.  [Desk thumping]

43 rd Plenary Sitting Tobago House of Assembly 2013 - 2017 Session

TOBAGO HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

28 April 2016
UNREVISED
REVISED
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