Ancil Dennis

Loyse Vincent

Chief secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Ancil Dennis has said that it is time to welcome a new day because the country’s borders are gradually reopening, and steps will be taken to drive Tobago’s economic recovery.

Speaking at the Post- Executive Council Media Briefing yesterday, Dennis said some of the areas to be targeted for immediate attention in the “new normal” is the tourism and cultural sector.

The long-standing issue of poor customer service on the island will get some attention from as early as this month.

He said, “TTAL (Tobago Tourism Agency Limited), in collaboration with THTI (Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute) will be engaging a very reputable and upstanding international organisation to facilitate customer service training not only across the tourism sector here in Tobago but it is going to be an island-wide training exercise to ensure that we improve customer service.”

While he did not reveal specifics surrounding the organisation selected to administer the customer service training, he did say the training is expected to run for two-three months.

Dennis said steps will also be taken to ensure that participation is “encouraged and in some cases incentivised,” and persons must be prepared to admit that customer service from the tourism sector to public service is nowhere near where it should be.

He said, “An intervention is needed; it has to come, and it will come now and I expect persons across the sector and across the island generally to participate in this critical initiative that is expected to be launched this month.”

The chief secretary announced that upgrades will also be made to a number of sights and attractions across the island and improvements will also be made to a number of beach facilities.

He said, “Generally we will be engaging in a process to improve the aesthetics of the island.”

According to Dennis, Tobago’s creative sector will also help to give the destination a competitive edge over other tourist destinations.

The Tobago Festivals Commission Limited was also instructed to create a Tobago Events Calendar which will be marketed internationally.

He said, “We already have the Tobago Heritage Festival, The Blue Food Festival, and even The Buccoo Goat Crab Race Festival, these are actually major festivals the kinds of which can be found nowhere else in the world but Tobago and therefore we are going to use them as leverage.”

He said there will also be opportunities to develop other festivals such as the community fisherman fetes and Tobago harvests that can form the basis for major festivals on the island. Dennis said Tobago is actively moving towards having its own Carnival.

“When I say we are moving away from having a simultaneous Carnival I am not talking about a separate Carnival but a different approach to that of Trinidad, the time has come rather than be in direct competition with Trinidad Carnival which we have not been able to compete with, we will take a different approach,” he said.

He said Medical Tourism, Eco-Tourism and renewable energy are also areas under consideration.