You ever so disgusted you can't speak? That's been me these past three days. But I had to rouse myself after seeing the picture I posted above and make a few comments. This picture was posted by Opposition MP Amery Browne and caused quite a stir on Facebook this morning. It was taken at the Miami Cruise Ship Conference, a space that we can use to push our tourism initiative, if we ever actually develop one.
By now, I think all sane thinking people must realise that this government is hopeless and useless. To expect this coalition to put country first is like expecting Prakash Ramadhar to grow a pair. Imagine after all the grand charge and huffing and puffing over MarleneGate, a little acting position as AG make him shut up! But I am expecting to hear about how much more food Prakash and his substitute bench getting in the overall Small Goal team. To hear Ramadhar talk about principles and principled stances does really make the bile rise from my liver to my throat. This is the same Prakash Ramadhar who was a part of the NSC that appointed Reshmi Ramnarine, he is the same Ramadhar that got up and defended her appointment back in 2010 and defended her right to privacy in 2012. This same Ramadhar supported the State of Emergency...this same Ramadhar sits in the Cabinet that would have approved Vidwattie Newton's travel expenses....and he speaks about principled behaviour with a straight face! Pardon my while I throw up.
But that picture you seeing up there got me really vexed because it speaks volumes about what we are and have become; from the 90s to the present day nothing has changed about our lack lustre tourism initiative. Let me first make it clear that the tourism authority in Trinidad...whether they call it TIDCO or TDC is the URP programme of the middle classes. Yes folks, since the 90s to now, when as part of the diversification initiative tourism get put on the table, Tidco or the TDC just supporting ghost gangs of people from a social class that makes CEPEP too low for them but pretending to market Trinidad and Tobago, while posturing with a glass of rum punch at international events is an adequate 10 days. Whole departments have been dedicated to putting up signs and signage on beaches and push curry-duck competitions.....whole budgets have been deployed to do things like the World Beat Festival....millions of dollars have been pumped into the development of niche markets like the yachting industry all to no avail....why? Because tourism never has been a serious initiative here at all. And the efforts poured into actually developing and marketing tourism in Trinidad and Tobago by Tidco/TDC staff, regardless of whether is NAR, UNC, OM, COP people comes up to the effort you see in the photo....in short....fuck all is being done....and it's not new. A current board member of Tidco, who is a prominent COP member, once sat on the yachting industry desk at Tidco in the late 90s to early 2000s...ask me how much Tidco actually did for the industry? Any progress that industry made in Trinidad was mostly through sheer dint of will and effort by the people whose livelihood depended on the industry thriving. Tidco printed brightly coloured brochures, co-sponsored a few events and regattas and paid its staff handsomely to do very little for that industry. I'd be intrigued to hear what that particular board member has to say now, 12 years later, about his then stint in Tidco and his current position on the TDC board. Any improvements? Have the number of boats mooring here increased or decreased? With all the money being pumped into enhancing tourism has out international presence improved at all?
Last year during the SoE not one advisory was issued by this government to counterbalance the negative press we were receiving as a result of having suspended the Constitution and locking down the country for 107 days during the oh Soe successful State of Emergency. In the aftermath of the SoE still no further advisories were issued by us and no marketing was done to alleviate what was obviously going to become a situation for Tobago's tourism industry. The winter season is peak tourist season, from December to March; ask me what measures the Government put in place to ensure that the impact of the SoE and our increasing crime statistics didn't have a negative impact on tourism in Tobago and even here in Trinidad for Carnival.....NONE!
Now while that photograph above points to an apathy and shoddiness that has crept into every level of our society, I am going to say this....the people who make a living off tourism, they make an effort and perhaps we should stop paying the middle class URP wage and just start funnelling the money into initiatives and programmes that actually assist the business people in these areas. Far more money could be spent on improving parks, beaches, eco resorts, wild life reserves, the zoo, the museum, the pitch lake and making them attractive to both local and foreign visitors. Instead we keep paying the salaries of party hacks and cronies...TDC's CEO under the last regime was the niece of a government minister....ask me what she actually knew about tourism......NOTHING. In the waning months of her tenure at TDC one of her intiatives was to make Trinidad and Tobago the conference destination in the Caribbean...the idea was to do business in Trinidad and have fun in Tobago....her organisation of just one conference was enough to put me off TDC (as if my previous experience with them in the yacthing industry wasnt disgusting enough) for life.
This picture above comes as no real surprise to me, since I have been seeing for years how much of a masquerade these trade fairs are. It involves a lot of travel, good salaries and perks and very little actual marketing of Trinidad and Tobago. Now I understand why Kamla travels so much to promote Trinidad and Tobago.....her board and staff at TDC doing fuck all, so she has to take up the slack.....Poor, beleaguered madam PM.
De Vice Cyah Done!