Launch of the Waterfront Decor Project
- Date: May 28, 2012
- Venue: Esplanade, Hyatt Regency Waterfront, Port of Spain
Launch of the Waterfront Decor Project
Chairmen and members of Boards
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Chairmen and other Members of Boards
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is indeed a pleasure for me to be here this afternoon to launch the first décor project in our grand commemoration of our nations Independence golden jubilee. The Ministry of Tourism must be commended for taking the lead in this initiative and I am sure that over the next few weeks we will see other similar ventures across Trinidad and Tobago.
A fiftieth Jubilee anniversary is without doubt a time to celebrate. And as with any celebration, we must devote time to reflection, honest assessment, taking the lessons learnt from past accomplishments and shortfalls, and to continuously refining our strategies for moving forward.
I can tell you that I have done my own reflection on the life of our nation, taking a glance over my shoulder back at the distance our nation has come.
Today I feel it is worthwhile that we all look back together at our history so that you can see what I see, and you will understand the motivation I have to take our nation forward.
At the age of 50 years as an independent nation, I do not feel satisfied that our Tourism sector has gained sufficient attention and support to take hold of its full potential and to assume its rightful place in the global sector.
Tourism is a multi-billion dollar global industry which for some countries represents the pillar of their economies and the source of their financial strength.
In September of 2011, the President and Chief Executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council, David Scowsill said that Tourism accounts for nine percent of global GDP and 255 million jobs.
Scowsill went on to say: Travel and tourism acts as a universal bridge connecting people, cultures, and communities all over the world. And at the same time, travel and tourism is a world leader in contributing to the global economy by creating jobs, generating wealth, and improving the quality of life of its citizens. Many Governments understand this. Unfortunately, many others do not.
In the presence of many stakeholders of the local Tourism sector, let me give you the assurance that my Government has placed priority on Tourism emerging as one of the new pillars of sustainable growth for a diversified economy.
My Government fully appreciates that Tourism and hospitality have the potential to become the largest employers of skills and talents in our economy and we have every intention, through strong policy implementation, of our country taking its rightful stake and place in the global sector.
To do that in a sustainable manner, however, significant measures must be taken if we are to have a robust platform upon which to build and move forward.
In order to build a strong and sustainable Tourism sector, we must be grounded in a sophisticated infrastructure network. We must have the modern education and training opportunities. We must have the access to quality healthcare. We must have the transport network. We must have a thriving small business sector and indeed, we must have a nation that feels itself to be connected and networked with the power centres at home and abroad.
A thriving Tourism sector requires that all efforts be taken to alleviate poverty and to ensure that citizens are given the support, the training and the space to take themselves out of the conditions that create and sustain poverty.
With these fundamentals being fortified and aligned to our agenda for sustainable development and diversification, over the past two years, we have also implemented new incentives for the Tourism sector to enable room upgrades and tax exemptions.
I am advised that a number of hotels have already begun to access these incentives in order to modernise and renovate their property stock to better prepare for the more discerning visitor.
Preparing for when our property stock has the upgrades they require, the Government has also moved to ensure that education and training are more accessible throughout communities which, for decades, had no access to training centres and skills development.
Using the figures Scowsill gave last year as an indicator, here in Trinidad and Tobago, the upshot of a revitalised Tourism Sector will be more jobs being created in many skills areas; more opportunities for transport workers; for professional chefs, for hospitality professionals; for landscape designers and gardeners; for painters; for carpenters; for seamtresses and clothing designers; for the craftsmen and also for restaurant workers.
As we move forward now, into a new phase of economic development, and in harnessing the sum total of our aspirations for the future, my Governments vision is for the achievement of a strongly diversified economy, strengthened political and social stability, and a Tourism sector that is ready to market a highly modern and attractive product that can truly mirror our multi-ethnic and multi-religious face to the world with pride.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council website, despite progressive downgrades to growth forecasts through 2011, the industry grew by 3% over the course of the year. Growth forecasts for 2012, although lower than anticipated a year ago, are still positive at 2.8% in terms of the industrys contribution to GDP.
Travel and Tourism contributed a total of US$.6.3 trillion to world GDP last year, with US$743 billion in investment and US$1.2 trillion in exports.
The potential for the Trinidad and Tourism sector tapping into this sector and carvings its own space is therefore great.
The road has been a challenging one, but we have arrived at the turning point for Tourism. Much is now demanded of Tourism and stakeholders must step up and take on the new challenge of assuming its place on the world stage, with my Governments support.
You will note that I have placed Tourism at the forefront of this event. And the link to our Tourism thrust and todays launch of this part of our Golden Jubilee celebrations lies in asking ourselves the very important question Can we market to the world something that we do not feel passionate about?
We must consider what it is exactly we are marketing when we re-invigorate Tourism.
To package our nations history, heritage, culture and unique diversity and natural environment, we must re-ignite our passion for Trinidad and Tobago.
At times, it is easy for us to look externally and attempt to measure ourselves against foreign countries. Whether deliberately or not, we at times even put ourselves down thinking that more development has taken place outside of our country than within.
That comes perhaps as a normal downside of growth and progress. But it is moments such as these, where we commemorate our long journey, and reaffirm our hopes together that we regain sight of what we have.
Here in Trinidad and Tobago, we have our freedom, we have our liberties, we enjoy our politically and socially stable democracy and we will defend these achieved ideals to the very end.
And in this the year of our 50th anniversary, we have a golden opportunity to re-think, innovate and recognising what we have, completely transform our image abroad.
Using initiatives such as this Décor and bringing out the strength of our patriotism, our nationalism, our loyalty to country and our dedication to the future, we come to realise that we are the ones; we the people are the one who can make the biggest difference in the way in which the world sees us and in the way we feel about ourselves.
By instilling this sense of pride in our nation that our 50 years of Independence brings back to the surface, our unity can provide an immense force and impetus that, once we move forward, nothing can stop us.
Lets re-dedicate ourselves to our great nation and get moving again, together! Lets make it happen! I thank you.