Two seminars costing US$500,000 (TT$3.2 million) aimed at improving the local tourism sector are to be held in Trinidad and Tobago next year, Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz said yesterday.
The Minister however said while the seminars have been budgeted at US$250,000 a piece, he would use his experience from the Trade Ministry to make sure taxpayers do not have to foot the bill.
The seminars will target the United States-based Travel Professionals of Colour (TPOC), which focusses on travel to the Afro-centric diaspora in the US and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO).
"When I say the budget figure, we just use that to plan with...typically we would seek sponsorship," he said. Cadiz made the statement at a media conference to welcome the TPOC group to the Ministry of Tourism at the Port of Spain International Waterfront Centre yesterday.
"If all goes well, like how it went well when I was at the Ministry of Trade, we actually wouldn't spend a cent. I would be bringing that same technique. At the end of the day we would be able to come out without spending any taxpayer' s money on this conference," he said.
The seminars would take the travel agents throughout historic African sites and other aspects of the diverse local culture and also include the CTO with a specific look at sustainable tourism development.
With regard to the recent human impact on the nesting turtles in Grande Riviere, CTO's product specialist Gail Henry said she was not "intimately" aware of the story.
Cadiz however said he was there last Wednesday and saw that nesting was continuing despite the mishap earlier in the month when hundreds of baby turtles were killed by heavy machinery working in the area.
"What we've been told is that they continue to have the hatchlings and would continue till the end of the season in August," he said.
"The majority of the nesting site has been saved and we hope to see a higher rate of nesting next year," Cadiz said, adding that 20 years ago there were just 40 recorded turtle nesting sites which have grown to 400 in recent years in the same area.
"It's a huge success story in Grande Riviere and even though there was that unfortunate incident we have learned from that," he said.