Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz yesterday set his goal for 2013 visitor arrivals to the country at 500,000—and charged the new Tourism Development Company (TDC) board of directors with helping to achieve that goal.
Visitor arrivals in 2012 were 258,000—a 23,000 increase over 2011.
"A State board's responsibility is to make sure the mandate of the Government is carried out—in this case, promote tourism and market the country. The executive structure of TDC will be revamped, including marketing, promotions sector and asset management. There are all professionals on the board, and we need a very good manager to look after it," he said.
The new board, with four new directors including chairman Brian Frontin, were given their instruments of appointment yesterday during an installation ceremony at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) hotel in Port of Spain.
The other members are attorney Madhavi Teeluckchan, Congress of the People member Naidu Podhar and former T&T cricket captain Daren Ganga.
Former Miss Universe Janelle Penny Commissiong-Chow retains her position as deputy chair.
Frontin is the third chairman in 14 months. In December 2011, then tourism minister Rupert Griffith dissolved the board after sacking the board led by Tobagonian chairman George Stanley Beard.
In January 2012, a new board was appointed, chaired by hotelier Rajiv Shandilya. His term came to an end last month.
Cadiz was supportive of Frontin and defended the composition of the board. "A board has to be made up of all professions and experiences to make it work. With a very good chairman, you can't lose. In all State boards, there will be (political appointments). State boards are there to carry out the mandate of the Government, so you can't have a board operating at odds with that.
"I have worked with Mr Frontin before at eTecK and he did an excellent job reining it in from the previous administration and getting it in line. I asked him to join me here at the TDC and I have full faith in him guiding the TDC and making tourism a much larger industry and contributor to the GDP than it is now... For decades the TDC board (and T&T) has suffered because of a lack of real direction and I hope with me coming into the ministry and a board with which I can work, and a new TDC executive, all that augers well to the building of a serious industry in T&T."
He said added that while crime was an issue of great concern, he believed National Security Minister Jack Warner was doing "all he can" to curb it.
"I don't want us to think that because crime against tourists is low that it is okay," he said.
Cadiz also announced cricket legend Brian Charles Lara as tourism ambassador, in addition to his status as sport ambassador.
"T&T does not have the name recognition that Lara has and it is important to recognise that because of the value that he brings (in promoting Trinidad and Tobago to various parts of the world)," Cadiz said.