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Monday 9 December 2019
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Tourism turmoil

ON THURSDAY, Trinidad Tourism Ltd (TTL) announced the appointment of an acting CEO, Heidi Alert, to, as chairman Janelle Commissiong-Chow pointed out in a media release, manage projects, including local and international campaigns that are in progress. The board has at least been clear about the necessity to continue its overdue and lacklustre efforts at marketing the island effectively.

Alert’s business background is in data-driven decision-making, something that’s been in short supply in government agencies dealing with the soft economy, and in her time at the helm it would be to TTL’s advantage for tourism planning to be based on identifiable facts with realistic strategic outcomes.

There remains a significant degree of untidiness involved in the firing of former CEO Camille Campbell, who was sought out at her job at TSTT where she had served in senior positions for eight years through numerous upheavals at that company and most recently as an executive vice-president before leaving for TTL.

According to a letter sent to Minister of Tourism Randall Mitchell by the chairman, the decision to dismiss Campbell was taken by a minority of the board, with five voting for the dismissal, two disagreeing and five entirely absent for the vote. The board didn’t even seem to know how long it was expected to continue its work, apparently misunderstanding a mandate to continue its work with a formal two-year extension.

On his return to Trinidad on July 5, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley promised that his government would “take ownership of whatever is happening” with the board it appointed. The board itself has since decided to take ownership of its actions. After a heated marathon ten-hour meeting on July 17 at which little appears to have been resolved, resignation letters have begun to flow in from members of the board. Deputy chairman Dwayne Cambridge, Solange De Souza, Alicia Cabrera and Dennis Ramdeen have been confirmed as quitting the board.

In their letters, the words “sullied,” “abhorrence” and “odium” have featured prominently as characteristics of the board’s public profile. Further, it seems that the advice of industrial relations adviser Lennox Marcelle wasn’t properly followed, specifically regarding clear notice of dissatisfaction with performance before dismissal.

Trinidad Tourism Ltd hasn’t been around long enough to have the kind of institutional depth necessary for its operations not to be significantly affected by a board in turmoil. De Souza’s resignation letter itemised 38 areas of concern in the board’s operations.

It’s now clear that the Prime Minister’s promise to review the operations there must be fulfilled with significant dispatch and that list seems as good a place as any to start.

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