TDC, 150 workers to go …”WE IN CHARGE NOW”

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The biggest announcements for 2017 by the “We in Charge” Tourism Minister, is to close down the Tourism Development Company (TDC), throw 150 people on the breadline, and say more visitors came for Carnival this year, when everybody else reported a big drop in arrivals.

Shamfa Cudjoe went silent after her “We in Charge” statement during the 2016 Budget debate. Nothing much has been heard of her, except that controversial sponsorship of taxpayers money for a Soca on the Seas boat cruise from Miami to the Bahamas in 2016. The cruise is returning again in 2017, and we wait to see how much money the Ministry of Tourism will give.

On Thursday, at the post-cabinet press conference in Tobago, Cudjoe announced that the TDC will be dissolved and its 150 employees will be invited to apply for jobs in the two separate entities to be established – one to market Trinidad and the other Tobago.

They will also be able to seek employment in the regulatory authority which is also to be established to set basic standards for all tourism operators. Sources already indicate that persons aligned to the PNM will be given priority.

Cudjoe said she held discussions with President of the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) Joseph Remy who asked what will happen to the 150 TDC employees.

She said she indicated to Remy that three entities are on stream to be established and vacancies will be publicized which the TDC employees can apply for.

“People will be invited to apply and they will be considered for the new positions in the new entities,” she added.

Cudjoe also announced that 46,663 persons arrived in Trinidad for Carnival this year.

That, she said, was a ten percent increase over 2016.

The minister said of this number, there was a 50 percent increase coming from the American market and 31 per cent coming from the Canadian market.

While she made such an announcement, hoteliers, business owners and bandleaders revealed before Carnival that there was a marked decrease in arrivals for Carnival.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival was marketed and in the spotlight as Cudjoe pointed out that the Ministry partnered with E! Entertainment TV for the filming of Wives and Girlfriends of Sport Stars in Trinidad and the crew members were treated to the full authentic Carnival experience.

She said two representatives from international media were also brought in to capture the energy of Carnival and share it with the world.

With respect to hotel occupancy, Cudjoe said there was some 99.8 per cent of occupancy of hotels in and around Port of Spain while there was a 90 per cent rate in South and other areas.

She said the hotel occupancy rates were not yet made available for Tobago.

However, she noted that last year, the average occupancy rate in Tobago was around 33 to 35 per cent and this has been the average over the years.

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SHAMFA CUDJOE

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