Last updated: 11:14 AM ET, Tue September 15 2015

New Trinidad Tourism Minister Takes Office Facing 'Plethora' Of Issues

Destination & Tourism | Brian Major | September 14, 2015

New Trinidad Tourism Minister Takes Office Facing 'Plethora' Of Issues

PHOTO: Trinidad tourism is based on the island’s outstanding natural environment. (Photo by Brian Major).

Last week’s general election in Trinidad & Tobago installed a new government headed by Dr. Keith Rowley, who has replaced Kamla Persad-Bissessar as prime minister. While Persad-Bissessar has challenged the election results, Rowley, who has promised a “nationalistic” approach that includes “taking responsibility,” is already naming new government officials.

Rowley last week named Shamfa Cudjoe minister of tourism, replacing Gerald Hadeed. Cudjoe is a senator in Trinidad’s parliament who has served also as a trade analyst in the Tobago House of Assembly. She has also worked as an international trade consultant with the Organization of the American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Washington D.C.

Rowley described Cudjoe as “one of Tobago’s leading professionals in the field of international affairs and foreign trade policy.” Citing “a plethora of issues” facing Trinidad & Tobago tourism, Cudjoe said her priorities will include “improving transportation links” between Trinidad & Tobago and “initiatives to improve the local tourism product.”

To date in 2015, Trinidad & Tobago has enjoyed a strong tourism upsurge. The destination hosted 222,946 overnight visitors between January and June, according to Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) statistics, a 9.3 percent increase over the same period in 2014.

Nevertheless, there is clearly room for growth. Last year, Trinidad & Tobago recorded 412,537 tourist arrivals, 14th among the 28 nations tracked by the CTO. Last year the country opened two new hotels, a 243-room Radisson Trinidad in the capital city of Port of Spain; and Chic Tobago, a 40-room boutique property located three minutes from the A.N.R. Robinson International Airport.

Trinidad and Tobago tourism activities focus on the destination’s outstanding natural environment. Las Cuevas Beach in Trinidad was selected in September 2014 as the pilot beach for Caribbean implementation of the Blue Flag Certification program, a voluntary designation recognizing compliance with strict environmental, education management, water quality and safety regulations.

The implementation follows the signing of an agreement between the Caribbean Tourism & Hotel Association (CHTA) and the non-profit Foundation for Environmental Education, which created and administers the program. Las Cuevas is now the English-speaking Caribbean’s Blue Flag certified beach. Through Nov. 16, beach goers can view Blue Flag information boards that display monthly updates on the water quality and on-site environmental education activities.

In addition, Trinidad is one of the Caribbean’s top turtle-watching destinations with 80 percent of all leatherback nesting in the Caribbean, according to Tourism Ministry officials. Visitors are assured of witnessing giant sea turtles on beaches from March through July. 

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