In an attempt to justify the Ministry of Tourism efforts to position Trinidad as a business and convention destination, Tourism Minister Joseph Ross has said business tourism booming worldwide.”
His claim begs the question: Is this before November 2008, when the economic meltdown began or after. Where exactly is this statistic coming from and how relevant and reliable is it today, given the world economic turmoil?
In another assertion by the minister, he said, “It is estimated that by 2010, business tourism will account for more than a third of the world tourism market.” Again, when was this assertion established and is it relevant and reliable today? The minister should know that statistics changes rapidly, what was fact yesterday is fiction today.
Minister Ross also said, “the sector is a highly lucrative one.” Evidence would clearly show that it “was” a lucrative one for some already established destinations, pre-November 2008.
The government is oblivious to the fact that the world has changed dramatically in the last three months, all of the data that the minister is relying on is now inappropriate and irrelevant with the drastic changes occurring worldwide, and it is getting worse. Anyone expecting a quick fix of the economic problems we face today is delusional.
The policies of the Ministry of Tourism does not reflect Trinidad’s true potential as a tourist destination. like the many other great initiatives announced by this same ministry and promises made, this one will also prove futile.
The Summit of The Americas cannot be used to gauge the true potential of business and convention tourism, today’s economic situation cannot be taken lightly. These Summits organizers are running out of host options and are happy to get anyone to host them. Experienced countries don’t want to host them as they know the true worth of it, Trinidad is new to this arena and have not learnt the lesson yet. It puts a great burden on the host country and it’s returns are unreliable, just ask those previous Third World hosts countries. The travel industry was fed the same pitch when it participated in the world cup, it was supposed to do so much. In response, the government invested millions and dispatched trade and cultural missions to Asia and worldwide, what did it do for the industry? Where are the quantifiable results?
If the ministry is adamant about this strategy, it should not be at the forefront, we need immediate results to deal with our current tourism woes, before this industry collapses totally. Business and convention tourism is a distant and highly unpredictable promise, much like the “milk and honey” that was promised. What happened to that? Could we afford to gamble with such initiatives? Shouldn’t the travel industry seek out more realistic strategies. Look at the rest of the Caribbean, they are so far ahead, yet still you don’t see them in these wild goose chases like Trinidad and Tobago.
Trinidad and Tobago’s false pride and unrealistic concept of what the industry is and what its true capacities are will destroy the industry. It is time for tourism officials to get real.