JSC member scolds Tobago tourism officials: We need numbers

Lisa Morris-Julian
Lisa Morris-Julian

Joint Select Committee (JSC) member Lisa Morris-Julian has scolded Tobago tourism officials for their lack of preparedness for Wednesday’s meeting in the Parliament.

The JSC, of which Morris-Julian is a member, reviews the operations of local authorities, service commissions and statutory authorities, including the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).

On Wednesday, the JSC met with representatives from the Divisions of Finance and the Economy and Tourism, Culture, Antiquities and Transportation.

The tourism division’s delegation was led by acting administrator Suresh Dookhoo and included Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd marketing co-ordinator Sheena Des Vignes; events/projects co-ordinator, Tobago Festivals Commission Ltd, Dexter Trim; and Korice Nancis, the division’s technical adviser.

But during the sitting, Morris-Julian, the D’Abadie/O’Meara MP, said she was extremely disappointed the officials did not have the requisite data on tourist arrivals and other figures, which she believes are crucial in determining strategies to improve the sector.

Morris-Julian said, “Through you, chairman (Dr Varma Deyalsingh), I just want to make a comment and I feel obligated to make this comment.

"This is a committee that is supposed to be on a fact-finding mission and it is very difficult that throughout this entire experience I keep hearing the same thing: ‘We do not have this information, it will be available in writing.’”

Owing to the unavailability of statistical data, she said, the tourism officials will have to return to the JSC.

“I just would like, through you, chairman, to let the THA know that we may have to call them back, because I want to discuss the information at length and every time I hear, chairman, through you, that 'we do not have the information,' I am very disappointed.”

Morris-Julian said members of the public viewing the sitting on social media felt the same.

“I am being messaged by members of the public who are expressing the same disappointment.”

She said the JSC was a “very serious arm” of Parliament and must be treated with the respect it deserves.

Deyalsingh and JSC member Laurence Hislop also complained about the officials’ inability to provide current statistics.

“It seems to be disappointing to come here and we are still having to await basic information about figures in the tourism industry – basic figures on how Tobago will be moving forward with this major thrust we have given them to help us with this tourism.”

Deyalsingh, an independent senator, had asked for data on the revenue Tobago earned from tourism from 2018-2022.

Dookhoo said they did not have the figure at hand, but promised to provide it in writing.

Deyalsingh responded, “We are looking at tourism, that important aspect. But we seem to be a bit challenged to provide some of the revenue…because if we have to go forward, we would have to get some figures. So, I am a bit disappointed we didn’t have those figures in.”

He urged them to improve their data-collection mechanisms.

“I think we may have to improve on that because to move forward I think we would have needed those vital figures here.”

Hislop, a government senator, believes the tourism representatives had enough time to prepare for the sitting, and lamented that key tourism officials were not present.

Hislop said tourism is the mainstay of Tobago’s economy and hence greater attention should have been paid to the sitting.


"JSC member scolds Tobago tourism officials: We need numbers"

More in this section