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Trinis responsible for unfriendly report
Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz says the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report for 2013, which ranks T&T the eighth least tourist-friendly destination in the world, is a reflection of how Trinidadians feel about tourism. He said citizens do not understand the value of the industry.
Cadiz made the comment yesterday at the launch of the 14th annual Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development in Port-of-Spain. T&T will be hosting the conference at the Hyatt Regency from April 15-18.
The WEF report, Reducing Barriers to Economic Growth and Jobs, assessed 140 economies worldwide based on the extent to which they are putting in place factors and policies to develop the travel and tourism sector. Countries were ranked according to 14 pillars, including safety and security, health and hygiene, and natural resources. Cadiz said the WEF report was polled in T&T and the results reflected the sentiments of citizens and how they felt about tourism.
“For too long we have looked at tourism as when it happens and if it happens and this is our attitude,” Cadiz said. “Those ratings are done by nationals and if the majority of people feel that way about tourism in T&T, then we have a job to do “If all sectors whether business, communities...all societies are made aware of the value of tourism, then their behaviour will change.”
Cadiz said he was not too worried about the rating because it was not totally accurate. He recalled that last year A Gallop report ranked T&T as the top five happiest people in the world. Asked if he thinks the report is probably a reflection of the country’s poor customer service rather than how citizens directly feel about tourism, he said: “I would say is everything lumped into one.”
Using the Conference to educate
Cadiz said the Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Conference is one of the tools that will be used to educate citizens on the value of tourism. The theme, Keeping the Right Balance: Enhancing Destination Sustainability through Products, Partnerships and Profitability, will explore ways the region could enhance destination sustainability and competitiveness in the current global environment.
Cadiz said his ministry will be working hard at building local and foreign tourism. The conference target audience includes policy makers, academics, tourism community groups and environmental activists. The minister said tourism is very lucrative industry and employs about 70,000 people—more than the manufacturing sector.
Cadiz also commented on the Canadian Phil Noonan’s advisory to stay away from Tobago because of an attack he suffered last year. He said incidents like that happen all over the world and T&T is not unique in this regard. He said Noonan was caught in the middle of a gun fight in Florida and was held up at gun point in Bahamas, so T&T is not the only country where such one-off incidents occur.
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