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Regional Vice President Government Relations Caribbean, Royal Caribbean Group Wendy McDonald and Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Randall Mitchell, during the MOU signing ceremony between the Royal Caribbean Group and the Tourism ministry, at the Trinidad Hilton Conference, St. Ann’s yesterday.

Peter Christopher

Jobs to revitalise a ravaged sector has been promised following the signing on Monday of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Royal Caribbean International and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, Randall Mitchell, said the signing was crucial because for over two years, the COVID-19 pandemic left many, who had been employed in the Tourism sector, without a stable job or income .

“Except for efforts to stimulate domestic tourism during the pandemic, our tourism sector, dependent on international tourism, took a serious blow, wiping out the close to $16 billion that the travel and tourism sectors contribute to our GDP as well as the majority of the 55,000 jobs attributable to those sectors. But as we move past pandemic with restrictions being eased, as we return to the way of living as we know it to me, and as we look towards the recovery of the economy and the return of persons getting back to income earning, it is a responsibility of this ministry to get people working again in the shortest possible time.”

He added, “Finding and providing those opportunities for the benefit of job seekers locally. The solution therefore, and the subject of this MOU is for the Ministry of Tourism Culture and the Arts, in partnership with Royal Caribbean International, to embark upon a major seafarer recruitment initiative here in Trinidad and Tobago to engage persons, to the offer of employment to thousands of positions on any of RCIs 26 ships,” he said.

Mitchell said applications would not be passed through a middle man or agency and applicants are required to apply through an online portal directly to Royal Caribbean.

The drive would be of equal benefit to the company as he acknowledged that the Cruise Ship Operators were also severely affected as cruises were seen as among the highest risk for spread of COVID-19.

“Cruise Lines were some of the hardest hits in the travel and tourism industry, as almost all ships were moored for about two years due to the closure of borders, especially since cruise tourism was seen as one of the riskiest forms of travel during the pandemic. Employees had to be let go, cruise lines had to constrain expenditure and today as the world of travel and tourism reopens, cruise lines are now looking to embark upon major recruitment initiatives,” he said.Wendy McDonald, Royal Caribbean’s regional vice president, government relations for the Caribbean, assured that work on the cruise line was available as the fleet was expecting guest to return this summer.

“Once we sign the Memorandum of Understanding today, the work of ironing out all the details of a national recruitment fair will ramp up in close cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and our partners in Trinidad and Tobago. We will host our first event June 7 to the 9th so that our new team members can join us for our busy winter season,” said

She confirmed that Trinidad and Tobago will be a part of the Cruise lines Southern Caribbean itinerary in 2023.

The recruitment drive will take place in Port of Spain, San Fernando and Tobago.