IN endorsing Ashworth Jack, political leader of the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP), as the next Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced a number of goodies for the sister isle, including the appointment of tourism attaches at foreign embassies to market Tobago.
The Prime Minister placed Tobago on an election footing as she urged the people to not vote blindly in the THA elections, which are constitutionally due January next year.
Tobagonians came out in their numbers at a mass public meeting at Old Market Square, Scarborough, where the People's Partnership held its second anniversary celebrations.
It was also the launch of the TOP election campaign, as every speaker on the platform chastised THA Chief Secretary Orville London and endorsed Jack as the incoming THA head.
Persad-Bissessar told the crowd that after years of "People's National Movement neglect", her Government was committed to putting Tobago first.
She announced that as part of the Government's thrust to boost tourism and investments in Tobago, tourism attaches would be appointed at diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom, New York and Toronto.
"To develop Tobago as a premier tourist destination, we will establish the post of a tourism attache, a diplomatic attache, based at the Trinidad and Tobago embassy in London upon consultation with stakeholders in Tobago...we'll make similar appointments thereafter in New York and Toronto," said Persad-Bissessar.
"They will have the responsibility of marketing Tobago especially in the UK and European markets," said Persad-Bissessar as she noted that most of the tourists staying at the Magdalena Grand Beach Resort were from these areas.
Persad-Bissessar also addressed the contentious issue of regularisation of Tobago land titles.
She noted that a committee was established to deal with this problem in December 2010, which held consultations with Tobagonians on the issue.
Some 87 per cent of land owners do not have paper titles, she said, adding that the Registrar General's Department in Tobago has beefed up personnel and systems so that applications to bring lands under the Registration of Titles Act (called RPO) are now filed in Tobago and can take mere months, rather than years once all requirements are met.
Persad-Bissessar said the Land Registration System, first passed in the year 2000, needs to be amended and made operational through regulations to provide a compulsory and speedier system of land registration.
The legislative work is currently being done.
An islandwide survey, she added, of all landholdings in Tobago is currently being implemented to determine how many people already had titles and how many can be given title under the existing RPO, or how many must be solved when the new system comes into effect.
She said officials will be visiting homes across Tobago to collect data from residents, relating to their ownership status.
The Government, she said, is committed to working with urgency to complete the introduction of a new registration system in which Tobago will be the pilot project.
"Even before the People's Partnership celebrates it third anniversary next year, Tobagonians will begin to receive their long-awaited and highly anticipated land titles," the Prime Minister promised.