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London: Tobago snubbed at launch of tourism plan
Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly Orville London is upset over the Ministry of Tourism’s exclusion of THA members from the launch last Friday of the $250 million Tobago Tourism Development Fund. In a THA press release yesterday, London said he was “surprised and disappointed” at the decision taken by Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz.
What made the situation alarming, London said, was that the facility was created after discussions involving the THA, Central Government and other stakeholders. He stressed the programme was expected to operate with the THA’s initiatives, which over the past two years had invested millions of dollars in the support of hoteliers and the upgrade of guesthouses and other establishments to make them more marketable.
London said despite what he dubbed a “deliberate snub” to make political mileage out of what should be an impartial issue, the assembly would continue to strive for meaningful collaboration with the ministry and Government. In a reply to London’s allegations, Cadiz said all stakeholders, including members of the THA, were invited to the launch. However, he added, he was not aware whether any members of the assembly were present.
Speaking from his home yesterday by phone, Cadiz said: “I am not aware of any exclusion and as far as I am aware, all their stakeholders were invited. “In fact when we do anything in Tobago, as far as the Ministry of Tourism is concerned, we ensure that the Tobago House of Assembly is notified and it is up to them to attend. I know sometimes scheduling is an issue.”
Asked whether the THA’s charge of exclusion could indicate some rift between Government and the THA, he said there was nothing malicious on his part and could not account for a representative of the THA not being present at the event. Cadiz said on the fourth day of his appointment to the Tourism portfolio, he visited Tobago, since he felt the island played a major role in the development plan for tourism in T&T.
He said he knew his ministry and the THA might have political differences, but it did not mean that the Tourism Ministry would adopt a laid-back approach with respect to the island. “I know there are differences, political differences, but it does not mean that the work of the Tourism Ministry has to take a back seat.”
Cadiz added: “I mean it is people’s jobs and people’s lives that we are dealing with and we can’t play politics with that.” He recently returned to T&T after falling ill in Miami, USA, which required hospitalisation, although a relative said he was fine.
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