Still buoyant from the success of last year’s inaugural fish fest, both Couva/ Point Lisas chamber president Ramchand Maraj and Couva/Tabaquite/ Talparo Regional Corporation chairman Henry Awong have expressed confidence that the festival would be a catalyst to spur the region’s economic development.
Both men were speaking at the launch of the second annual Carli Bay Fish Fest at the Chamber’s Camden road, Couva auditorium yesterday.
Maraj said the fish fest, which takes place on June 29 at the Carli Bay Fishing Facility, is not just about eating seafood dishes, but to also highlight the importance of the fishing industry to the region.
“Last year’s fish fest was a resounding success, beyond our expectations. It is not just to sample the various dishes or enjoy the remarkable talent being displayed by our local cultural groups, but to highlight the economic importance that the Carli Bay fishermen play within the agricultural sector.
“And given the linkages between agriculture and tourism, I want to declare that it is the vision of the Couva/ Point Lisas chamber, together with the Couva/ Tabaquite/ Talparo Regional Corporation, to turn Couva into a national tourism attraction centre.”
He said both organisations were optistimic that the region’s economic fortunes would improve, as tourism is one of the world’s fastest-growing industries.
A report by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) said the travel and tourism sector grew 3.9 per cent and contributed a record US$8.8 trillion and 319 million jobs to the world economy.
Awong said central Trinidad not only possessed a number of potential tourism sites but also a number of sporting centres which could boost sporting tourism.
“Let us look at the fish fest not just as an activity in Carli Bay for the day, but let us look at it as part of our economic development. We will continue to promote sporting tourism in the Caribbean. We have the aquatic centre, the cycling velodrome, the national cricket centre and a new home for football.
"And then we have all the wonderful tourism sites such as the 85-foot Hanuman murti located at Carapichaima, and the temple in the sea, the beautiful Catholic Church in Tortuga, the La Vega estate and the San Antonio cocoa estate.”
While Carli Bay Fishermen's Association president Imtiaz Khan also applauded the initiative, he said fishermen were also facing several challenges such as piracy, an inability to access the landing sites at times and the decision to stop importing regular gasoline. He said this last policy, which was enacted after the closure of Petrotrin last year, was the major challenge facing the industry.