T&T urged to improve customer service to help tourism sector
Tourism Minister Shamfa Cudjoe is appealing to citizens to treat each other and visitors well as the Government seeks to develop the tourism sector.
Speaking at the launch of Caribbean Tourism Month at Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project in St Ann's, Cudjoe said everyone should consider themselves tourism stakeholders even if they do not run a hotel or offer a service.
Drawing reference to an incident where a woman gave two tourists a tongue-lashing in Tobago, Cudjoe said that woman ruined the tourists' experience in Tobago.
"We all have to take a good look if we are really serious about improving our gains, our returns from our tourism investment. Because it is one thing to market the destinations, our beautiful hotels, our forests and all the assets we boast about and when we face people the treatment is rotten," she said.
"We shouldn't just be concerned about how we treat tourists. I always say a good place to live is a good place to visit. We have to be concerned about how we treat ourselves, how we treat each other. So we all are stakeholders," she added.
Recounting a story of police officers telling tourists at the start of the Cruise season that it was dangerous to walk around town, Cudjoe said they will be working with the police
"We have a long way to go in improving our customer service, how we treat each other, how we treat ourselves, how we welcome these people that we work so hard to attract so we would be working under the new entity with the police on security and safety to have more tourism-oriented policing," she said.
Cudjoe said Caribbean Tourism Month is about creating awareness among citizens about their role in developing and expanding the tourism industry.
She said T&T will mark the month with several initiatives including a social media photo and video challenge, ten days of tours with tourism stakeholders and partnerships with communities such as Fondes Amandes, Lopinot and Salybia.
She said there will be a Poui Festival in April or May next year which is the brainchild of Le-An Telesford, the 2017/2018 Junior Minister of Tourism from Naparima Girls' High School.
Speaking at the event, Telesford, who placed third at the Caribbean Tourism Organisation's Youth Congress, said she also intends to hold community beautfication projects, workshops to highlight careers in tourism and an art and photography competition for the youth.