Mitchell: UNC wasted millions with nothing to show

Date: 
Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - 17:15

San Fer­nan­do East MP Ran­dall Mitchell says that while the Unit­ed Na­tion­al Con­gress (UNC) is promis­ing a host of things in their Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Elec­tion cam­paign, cit­i­zens should con­sid­er how they wast­ed mil­lions of dol­lars with lit­tle to show for it.

“Don’t be fooled by the UNC pro­pa­gan­da, talk­ing about they’re work­ing and putting on a yel­low hard hat for pic­tures. We know them by their past deeds, it is the same old UNC from 2010 – 2015. Noth­ing has changed,” Mitchell said.

He was speak­ing at the Peo­ple’s Na­tion­al Move­ment’s (PNM ) pub­lic meet­ing at Skif­fle Steel Or­ches­tra in San Fer­nan­do on Tues­day night. Mitchell, the Min­is­ter of Tourism, said un­der the UNC, Caribbean Air­lines lost over US$500 mil­lion but un­der the PNM, the com­pa­ny re­turned to prof­itabil­i­ty in 2017. He said this was one ex­am­ple of how the PNM res­cued the coun­try fol­low­ing the cri­sis it met when elect­ed in­to gov­ern­ment in 2015. 

“We had to turn­around the econ­o­my. And the turn­around of State en­ter­pris­es was crit­i­cal. And while San Fer­nan­do peo­ple and South peo­ple would feel it most be­cause of Petrotrin. Oth­er State en­ter­pris­es had to be re­struc­tured. We’re re­struc­tured and now trend­ing in the right di­rec­tion, in­clud­ing Petrotrin,” he said.

 

Be­fore cit­i­zens vote on De­cem­ber 2, Mitchell said they should re­flect on these things. He said the UNC wants cit­i­zens to be­lieve that the an­swer to the dras­tic fall in en­er­gy sec­tor rev­enue is di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion, such as tourism. But un­der the UNC, he said the now-de­funct Tourism De­vel­op­ment Com­pa­ny spent ap­prox­i­mate­ly $100 mil­lion an­nu­al­ly with no re­turns.

He said over­seas mar­keters were paid tens of thou­sands of US dol­lars month­ly but tourist ar­rivals fell. “The TDC was bro­ken with no lead­er­ship and every 12 months, it was chang­ing boards. Worst of all, even though the TDC had the re­spon­si­bil­i­ty to mar­ket To­ba­go, To­ba­go and the THA was al­most com­plete­ly cut off. Stake­hold­ers want­ed noth­ing to do with the TDC ex­cept those who fed at the trough,” Mitchell said.

He said the Gov­ern­ment took the ad­vice to dis­solve TDC and re­struc­ture the State’s man­age­ment of the tourism sec­tor, form­ing the Tourism Trinidad Ltd (TTL) and To­ba­go Tourism Agency Ltd (TTAL).

While ad­mit­ting the tran­si­tion had its chal­lenges, he boast­ed that TTAL’s des­ti­na­tion mar­ket­ing cam­paign, “To­ba­go Be­yond”, won the Sil­ver Award for “Best Na­tion­al Tourism Board Cam­paign” in the In­ter­na­tion­al Trav­el and Tourism Awards pre­sent­ed by WTM in Mag­a­zine Lon­don on No­vem­ber 5.

He said op­er­a­tions on the air and sea bridge have nor­malised and will be bol­stered by the ar­rival of two new ves­sels. While San­dals Re­sorts In­ter­na­tion­al has pulled out of bring­ing its pop­u­lar brand to To­ba­go, he said two in­ter­na­tion­al­ly brand­ed op­er­a­tors will soon be­gin op­er­a­tions on the Mag­dale­na Grand Beach & Golf Re­sort and Tur­tle Beach Re­sort and Inn.

“Our vis­i­tor ar­rivals and the amount of mon­ey vis­i­tors spends when they stay here are both up this year and we con­tin­ue to en­sure that we grow in that di­rec­tion. We are fo­cus­ing on work­ing with the Car­ni­val event pro­mot­ers to en­sure that our Car­ni­val re­mains the most in­no­vat­ing; the best in the re­gions and world­wide. Our cruise sea­son opens this Thurs­day with the ar­rival of the Caribbean Princess and we are en­sur­ing that our cruise num­bers in­crease every year.

Reporter: Kevon Felmine

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