Saturday, January 20, 2018

Tourism group to Hadeed: Revive stalled projects

Tourism stakeholders have already despatched a welcome letter to new Tourism Minister Gerald Hadeed, highlighting some of their concerns within the industry.

“We’ve only sent it off (Tuesday), but we want to give him the opportunity to respond. We want to give him a chance (to acclimatise to the new position), but this learning curve has to be short,” said Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants and Tourism Association president Hassel Thom yesterday. 

Hadeed was named to his new portfolio on Monday after his predecessor, Chandresh Sharma, resigned earlier that day amid allegations of abuse from his former girlfriend Sacha Singh. 

Hadeed’s appointment means he is now the fourth Tourism Minister in four years. When Sharma was appointed last September, after swapping ministries with current Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz in Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s latest Cabinet re-shuffle, tourism stakeholders held a news conference a day after the announcement to voice their displeasure at the choice of Sharma. 

“Change is disruptive but we need to look now how we move forward in the best possible way for the industry. Since September all the initiatives named by (Cadiz) were all stalled. These were plans stakeholders believed would have been beneficial to the industry. We are hoping Hadeed will look at them and put them back on to the front burner,” Thom said. 

Hadeed, in a brief telephone interview yesterday, said while he had yet to meet with his permanent secretary (Julianna Boodram) and staff at the ministry in order to be apprised of its running, he was excited to be part of the tourism industry.  

“What I intend to do is listen a lot. The stakeholders are the ones who understand the business, so I will listen to them—especially the ones from Tobago,” he said.

 “There is a lot of worth, a lot of foreign exchange that can be earned with a proper product and the Government will assist in the development of the sector. We do have two products—Trinidad and Tobago—that we can market. I’m a businessman and I will use that expertise to get the industry moving quickly.”