Secretary for Education, Innovation and Energy Kelvin Charles said the Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute’s (THTI’s) decision to accept Trinidad students after the closure of the TT Hospitality and Tourism Institute (TTHTI), has given birth to educational tourism on the island.
At the post executive council news conference on Wednesday at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex, Scarborough, Charles said under his stewardship as chief secretary, the Tobago House of Assembly, had planned to develop the THTI into a full-fledged university by fostering collaborations with universities abroad.
“It was really, in effect, to use the university as a focus for our growth in education tourism which can, of course, bring benefits to our economy by reference to foreign students coming in or utilising our services thereby ensuring we have foreign exchange earnings and that our entertainment sector gets business, restaurants, transportation,” he said.
Charles said although the plan for educational tourism might be set back a bit owning to the closure of the borders “we can see the birth of this initiative by reference to just this simple situation where the closure of an institution in Trinidad has provided opportunities for the growth of that idea in Tobago.”
The THTI has been receiving a large number of applications from Trinidad for the 2021 school term after the Chaguaramas-based TTHTI closed its doors, last month, owing to financial difficulties.
THTI CEO Dr Stephen Sheppard told Newsday the institution was not affected by the TTHTI’s closure but noted it has been accredited for the next five years.
Charles said he was pleased the THTI has moved quickly to online teaching and can accept applications from Trinidad students for some of its programmes.
“As a matter of fact, because the nature of the programmes also involves some practical work, it means that those students will eventually have to take up temporary residence in Tobago.
“The implication from an intended advantage standpoint is that it means business for those persons who provide accommodation.”
At the briefing, Charles also announced the division is currently engaged in repair work at nine secondary schools and 12 ECCE centres.
Noting repairs to primary schools were completed some time ago, Charles said the overall cost of repairs for 2020 is estimated at $17.6 million.