Last update: 05-Dec-2013 8:03 am
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Blame it on the budget
Newly-appointed Tourism Minister Chandresh Sharma said he missed three opportunities to meet industry stakeholders because of debate on the 2013/2014. “You would appreciate that we would have been in the Parliament for the last few days. I have a responsibility as Member of Parliament and minister, I have spoken to the Parliament first.
“Once those activities are taking place during the Parliament sittings, somebody would represent the ministry,” Sharma said yesterday at a news conference to launch Tourism Week 2013 at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad hotel, Port-of-Spain. Sharma, who had previously been Transport Minister, was given the tourism portfolio when Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar reshuffled her Cabinet earlier this month.
He said his meeting with tourism stakeholders is tentatively set for next Wednesday, but the date was to be finalised. Asked whether he would continue the Tuesday meetings with Tobago stakeholders which his predecessor Stephen Cadiz had initiated, Sharma said he would have weekly meetings, but it wouldn’t be on Tuesdays as that is his constituency day.
In his first major event since taking up the tourism portfolio, Sharma expressed concern that there might not be enough hotel room stock in T&T. He said with United States carrier JetBlue due to begin flights to T&T from Florida and New York, that is one of the major challenges he is facing in his new ministerial assignment.
Commenting on the request for proposals for an advertising agency to develop a tourism destination branding programme for T&T, Sharma said stakeholders have been invited to a meeting on Monday morning. “At this point in time, we have not yet arrived at a final decision, so I can’t say what and where we would do it. The November deadline doesn’t mean that we cannot extend it if required. If there are some things that we need to revisit, we certainly will at the same time the work of the ministry would continue.”
The original plan entailed launching brand T&T during the World Travel Market expo in London later this year.. Responding to complaints from tourism stakeholders that the chairman of the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) changes every time the minister is changed, Sharma said: “That will change, (the chairman) will stay.”
As debate continues about whether the price of Caribbean Airlines tickets has increased, Sharma said this is not so. “There are no increase in prices. The fares are the same really. In fact, travel out of T&T to an international destination is less costly than if you were travelling within the United States,” he said
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