Saturday 18 November, 2017

Mandatory regulations coming for accommodation providers

Hoteliers will soon be forced to adhere to specific standards when it comes to the accommodations they are offering to the public.

Speaking at an appreciation function for stakeholders on Friday night, Minister of Tourism Shamfa Cudjoe said mandatory regulations are coming.

She said the regulatory framework is being set up and noted that while the Trinidad and Tobago Industry Certification Programme is currently voluntary, it will soon be mandatory.

She noted that there are stakeholders who are very vocal against the setting up of a regulatory authority but vowed that she intends to make the sector better than she met it.

“We cannot for one moment believe that in 2017 that we can stand up next to a Bahamas, Barbados or Jamaica without having mandatory standards to guide the industry.  If we are serious about tourism and growing and having proper quality of our products we have to get on board,” she said.

“There is absolutely no way are going to continue to will call for more marketing and then when the tourists get here what about the quality of our product? That could redound all our marketing efforts to nought.  We go out there and say come it’s nice, it’s perfect and when you get here you have a problem with certain hotels where they don’t clean a room for a couple days and when you look at Trip Advisor and the kind of comments on Trip Advisor you cannot be serious about improving our numbers and improving our profile and going out there and market.”

Speaking to Loop following her speech, Cudjoe said Trinidad and Tobago is the only destination in the region that does not have mandatory standards.

“If you are in this business, whether or not you are getting assistance from the Government, what you do affects our profile and our reputation as a destination. If a tourist comes and spends time at your establishment and they get bad service or it wasn’t cleaned for a couple days it leaves a bad reputation not just for your business, nut your community, the tourism sector and Trinidad and Tobago.

She said consultations are going on with stakeholders and some are opposed to the regulatory authority but want Government to invest in their properties.

“Some of the operators their kitchens are too small and they want to extend and they want Government funding but if you cannot guarantee me that this improvement is going to bring you up to basic standards then what kind of investment is the Government making? We are not just handing out money and giving grants this is an investment and we want to see returns on this investment,” she said.

She said the implementation of the regulations are still being discussed particularly as it pertains to fines and certification marks for approved properties.

Asked if the regulations will also apply to Airbnb properties, the Minister said they have to work with agencies such as those.

“Let’s look at Tobago for instance. Caribbean Airlines continues to move up to 17,000 people per weekend back and forth between Trinidad and Tobago but you hear hoteliers complaining they have no occupancy. If we are moving all these people then where are they staying? If they are not staying by you they staying somewhere else, they are using Air BnB, they are using Home Away, and they are using people who are offering the same services that not registered with the association and that gives us an opportunity to look at the wide variety of products we offer.

“Our research has to extend beyond the association and hoteliers need to check themselves to figure out why are they not staying with me, what am I doing or not doing and what can the association do to help members improve their profile and capacity,” she said.