The only way tourism can be a viable industry in Trinidad and Tobago is if the citizens buy into that concept.
And that’s the thinking behind the Tourism Ministry’s new educational programme “Tourism: It’s about all of us”.
“We have natural beauty and a culture...that can rival or be better than many other destinations in the Caribbean. The problem is marketing. But we cannot market if the people do not believe we have a tourism product. We have to educate the population about what we have in Trinidad and Tobago,” Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Juliana Johan-Boodram, said yesterday.
The Ministry launched the new programme to the media and other various stakeholders at the North Deck, off the North Coast Road in Maracas.
The campaign will involve a media blitz utilising advertisements for radio, television, social media and print.
The campaign will cost an estimated $5 million over 18 months, and after a tendering process, will be led by marketing firm FV Marketing Ltd, and as Johan-Boodram put it, “It is designed to inform and educate”.
Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz said it was important that people recognise the direct and indirect impact the industry can have in the economy.
“Unless we as a people buy in we will go nowhere. We are trying to create a new awareness of tourism—we want people to understand the value of tourism. In Trinidad and Tobago we just don’t understand the value of this industry. We want to tell Trinidad and Tobago how far into the economy the tourism dollar goes,” he said.
Cadiz said the data showed that in Trinidad and Tobago, 75 cents from every $1 goes back into the economy. In other islands, it could be as few as 12 cents from every dollar. Also, the industry employs 30,000 people directly, and 35,000 indirectly. Major tourism infrastructure in Trinidad and Tobago he also noted, were built with local money and managed primarily by local people.
“We have a wonderful product that a visitor from anywhere would want, but first we must recognise that,” he said.