Tourism, Culture and Decentralization

By Derren Joseph
June 24, 2010

Maracas BayToday I continue from last week’s exploration of tourism as a key component in our diversification thrust. There are three points to be made – there is a nexus between tourism and culture, domestic tourism is critical and greater decentralization which empowers communities to develop and implement local development plans are necessary.

From a tourism point of view, many of us see Trinidad’s most unique product offering as its culture (Tobago is a separate proposition). In that way, there is perhaps great potential synergy to be realized in strengthening the relationship between our Culture and Tourism Ministries. So it is within that context that the UK approach merits some examination. In the UK, there is a Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) which is led by Minister Jeremy Hunt whose full title is the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport. Reporting into him are 3 other Ministers – Tourism and Heritage Minister John Penrose, Sports and Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson and Culture, Communications and Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey. A very interesting structure indeed.

The previous UK Tourism Minister famously claimed Britain’s hotels were overpriced, were of “worrying quality” and that she preferred to holiday in Italy than the UK. The new Tourism Minister under the coalition government however, is the MP for a region that depends heavily on tourism – particularly domestic tourism.

In a recent speech, available on the DCMS website, Minister Jeremy Hunt said “If my first priority today is about getting visitors into the UK, the second is about getting British holiday makers to stay in the UK.” The Minister went on to say that “I want to enlist your help in telling me and John Penrose what needs to be done to reinvigorate our domestic tourism industry.” Like in the UK, our new Tourism Ministers are MPs for areas which are dependent on both domestic and overseas tourism. Good move.

Many see Domestic Tourism as both an end and a means to an end. On its own it contributes to GDP and creates jobs which is what every government wants. But at the same time, as locals patronize a site or attraction, it incentivizes those who control this “product” to invest and by so doing, make it more attractive to both domestic and overseas visitors.

I was chatting recently with one of the many local tourism stakeholders. His point was that tourism at the community level would benefit from better cooperation between the central government and local government bodies. He went on to advocate greater autonomy for local government bodies in the sphere of tourism and that tourism should be framed within holistic local/regional development plans. Of course, I agreed.

It is noteworthy that the Manifesto of the People’s Partnership speaks to the “Adoption of a much more decentralised model for regional development planning” on page 16. I would be very interested in following any consultations on decentralization (or even devolution?) when they begin.

Going back to the UK, local government authorities enjoy much greater autonomy than ours and very importantly, enjoy the ability to collect taxes for their own purposes. Under our last administration, some argued against the Property Tax on the basis that funds collected went straight to the central government which suggested a focus on centralization rather than decentralization. While doing an MPhil in Economics at the University of Aberdeen, I encountered a fundamental principle of European Union law called subsidiarity. This principle has both legal and political dimensions and is extensively explained and debated online. One facet of this principle however, is that decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the citizen. So it goes beyond merely advocating decentralization, it seeks to empower communities as much as possible.

Subsidiarity was established in the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht, although it was already a key element of the 1985 European Charter of Local Self-Government which advocates decentralization.

From a Community Tourism standpoint, a great local example for me would be the communities involved in the Turtle Village Trust. My wife and I took our kids last year and it was an indescribable experience. Extremely well organized and it is an activity that I would highly recommend.

I wanted to go again this coming weekend, but I am committed to supporting my alma mater, St Mary’s College, which is hosting its annual Dining With The Saints this Saturday 26th June at the College. It is an important fund raiser for the school. As usual, there will be over 100 cooks and exquisite desserts.

13 thoughts on “Tourism, Culture and Decentralization”

  1. Tourism needs to be developed. The last UNC administration built washroom and change-room facilities at several popular beach locations. Along came the PNM and those facilities was left run-down and eventually of no use. The current administration must work to develop facilities at the various tourist venues. It is a worthy investment, because there can be a pay per use policy in place that would bring in revenue and employ some people. Expats want to return with their children and give them a part of their culture, so cultural sites can be identified and developed also. The tourism industry must set criterion for each tourist site and market those sites on Caribbean Airways.

    1. Why rush to develop the tourist sector? The Global recession is going to hurt global tourism significantly in the near future.
      Also, why travel to TNT when you can go to any of the other Islands? If an American wants to go to the beach, they can still do so away from the Gulf. Europeans can hang in the Mediterranean if they like. What will be offered in TNT that will make it different from all of the other tourist nations with beaches during a global economic recession? Let us not forget, Cuba may be open for business for the Yankee Dollar soon.

  2. The delusional Curtis said , “Let us not forget, Cuba may be open for business for the Yankee Dollar soon.” Curtis take your head from out of your rear end , and begin the task of using your ‘blacksungod brain.’ Cuba has as much chance of opening up to the Yankees , especially under the Obama, and Raul regime , as you or Naipaul of having a chance to either succeed Queen Elizabeth the 2nd to the throne, or get a date with , much less marry one of her grand daughters, are you nuts?

    Barbados is 50 square mile bigger than Tobago, enjoys one of the highest per capita incomes in the region , and as of 2008, it’s GDP was $3.682 billion, most of which was driven chiefly by tourism, along with offshore banking and financial services as sources of foreign exchange and economic growth. This allows their exchange rate to remain steady at BDS2 to US$1.
    Now while you comedians led by the confused agents of this new regime, who like the previous idiots that rule the roost for the past 40 years, are willing to ignore your unspoiled sister island Tobago, look at what the flying fish stealing , oil ,and gas grabbing ,upstart Bajans ,are telling the world about their pearl .
    Just like in 86 , without two Tobago seats ,these jokers now in power , would still be wiping the back of bench pews, while telling the world ,and loyal tribalist global friends, that our country is remains fervently an anti Asian ,pro discrimination , genocidal cesspool , favored only by Afro Trini racial miscreants ,that somehow , mysteriously voted en mass for them ,every time they won. Tell me how are they prepared to move forward as a matter of policy, based on the early tea leaves displayed? You guess it, continue business as usual across the nation,while acting as if they just ousted Forbes Burnham,Dada Amin,Ilikimi Naitini, or Frank Bainimarama.
    The first was for a now politically resurrected Dooke ,was to pick a pitiful fight with the THA,over some petty budgetary ‘small change,’ as if Tobago is some stupid , unplanned ,Central , or Southern Borough .
    The second act was to haveTherese Baptiste-Cornelis,a typical self hating , African female , in the form of their Minister of Health, lambast citizens in the island ward, for simply requesting information , as to when they were going to finally get a hospital, that eluded the island since Queen Victoria was running around the Buckingham palace in knickers.
    The third act is to have the neo racist gang led by pro Ministry of Multiculturalism Sat Maharaj, start WW111 ,over already scare lands on the island to build Hindu Temple in Signall Hill , for 15 or less Indo Trinis / Guayanese,on the island.
    Now you tell me , Curtis , if that would be the policy a new Barbados government,irrespective of how contentious was a election?
    Do you and similar egotistical , clueless , sudden country country adorers , still wonder why we in resource laden ,Sweet Sweet, T&T aka Rainbow Country , remains the underachieving , laughing stock , of the region and the world at large?
    I tell you folks , the the day that we could bury or tribalist mindset in the grave ,where it belongs, then rest assured that all these political victories , gender success stories ,and attempts and progressive politics ,would serve little purpose for us as a nation. I hope that you and similar tribalist Curtis ,would ‘put that in your pipe and smoke it.’ Take it from a true globalist, it ain’t pretty for countries that do otherwise.
    Yours truly,
    Deglobalpolitical-animal,& voice of reason

    1. I am glad to have the old Neal back. You may not be aware of this Neal, but right now Cuban Americans are allowed to travel freely back and forth into Cuba and they are currently investing in valuable real estate, business, and infrastructure. This was done because the overall embargo is going to end and no one wants to see big business sweep away Cuban opportunity.
      I will not attempt to dispute the wealth and earning potential for Barbados. They have to survive on Tourism.
      What can Tobago offer that Barbados doesn’t already offer? I’m not saying that it should deter development of Tobago, but I am looking at the global economic environment. When it comes to tourism, the Caribbean has a lot of competition all offering the same thing.
      Perhaps if Tobago was the Amsterdam of the Caribbean it would have a chance of being different and attractive.
      I will leave it up to you to answer what sets Tobago apart from any other Caribbean destination.
      As for your speculation about the intent of others, please inform us as to what your intentions for the country and Tobago would be if you were in power. If Neal had his way, what would he do? How would Tobago be different from what it is now and would it be any more or less profitable?

  3. There are endless ways to generate taxable revenue that could contribute to schools, roads, and basic social services.

    Something needs to change soon to attract investment and foreign dollars to the tourist sector of the economy.

    Trinidad and Tobago can’t even compete with the Dominican Republic. Something is terribly wrong.

  4. I should hope to God that we never compete with the Dominican Republic which exports prostitutes to Antigua(They were called butter-skins when I worked there). Our women are ill suited to tourism. Tourism requires grinning facile “yes’m” women and touts who can arrange other women for hotel guests. This is why European/American men of money power and priviledge travel to placs like Puket, and other Indonesian playgrounds, so as to have sex with nubile girls. Our beaches are as good, but our women are not as easy, but to hear it told by an oil-jumper just returned from a stint in South Trinidad, some women of certain ethnic groups would literally kiss your dirty feet, if you set them up to keep house in your apartment.They are docile, servile and someone else’s sister, but that does not matter.

    I have travelled to many countries in Europe and the Americas. Always, the “tourist” places offer beautiful cheap women. Places like Bolivia and Peru offer eco-tourist tours. The islands ofer easy flesh, on the beach, for men and women, and these poor sex slaves then go home to their wives/husbands and families.
    I am against tourism of this sort.I never met a single man I wanted to have sex with in London, Paris, Rome, Livorno, Barcelona, Toronto , Montreal, Quebec, Peterborough,Puerto Rico, or any place else. I get mine in a permanent relationship, but alas, the tourist spending his money in your place, expects more than polite service.He/She wants free and easy sex with someone other than wife or husband.
    Are you willing to sign up your daughter? Curtis, your sister? your wife? Your mama?

    1. I only mentioned Dominica Republic because of the revenue that that country generates in tourism dollars. It’s significantly more than TNT.
      Woman make the world go around. I would teach my daughter my values as I would have expected my father to teach my sister. In the end, liberated woman do what they want to do without regard to what any man says or thinks.
      Where do honeymooners vacation? How much revenue does that place generate in the tourism industry? What does it have that TNT doesn’t have or offer?
      Customer service can be a bit rough in TNT.

  5. Cousin Curtis said ,”What can Tobago offer that Barbados doesn’t already offer? I’m not saying that it should deter development of Tobago, but I am looking at the global economic environment.”
    You can be certain Curtis , that it is not via construction of Hindu temples , on 100 acres of prime Tobago real estate ,to satisfy the 20 Indo Trinis ,that choose to escape the pristine enclaves of Central, Aranguez, Tabaquite, Siparia, Tunapuna, Berbice Demararra Guyana,to instead live on the island , after Motilal Moonan made his millions via road constructions on the island ward in the late 70’s to 80’s .
    We know who sat around with an excitable grin on their faces, like constipated African hyaenas ,when CLICO pulled out their support of the world famous , revenue creating ,Tobago Jazz festival.
    We are quite aware why the fools in and out of power, in our big sister twin island Trinidad ,stood idly by , without ensuring proper legislations were put in place to curb certain despicable behaviors in Tobago, that would have ensured that the twin island be placed on the partway to sustainable development ,in similar fashion to Barbados- and of course Trinidad.
    I am referring to allowing descendants of European savages -as well as unmentionable,power driven laschievious others- to exploit gullible Tobagonians ,of their lands,then pretend they would invest tangibly in it’s development so as to foster meaningful employment , but instead made every move to develop their private neo Natzi, and Mafioso , elitist enclaves .
    We have no doubt as to who were the prime elements against the construction of a much needed deep water harbor,upgrading of the island’s single airport Crown Point, dismissal of the importance of improving the island’s overall health situation, with a timely, long overdue hospital. Oh yes , we witnessed the obsessions with phantom cases of genocide, and phony kidnappings, but uncaring about security inefficiency on the island ward, which had resultant negative impact on tourism, supported allowing upstart Bajans the privilege to disregard our international , and territorial laws,in pursuit of their natural oil/gas resource grabs, while pretending to look for fast depleting /perhaps non existent flying-fish,and to now add insult to injury, start a stupid war with the THA ,over a paltry TT$50:00, budget increase for the fiscal year 2010.
    Yet folks , these comedians are surprise as to why the characters I affectionately refer to as the “me, me, geme, geme, dog with a bone, selfish gangs” -in all their manifestations/disguises -are so despised by all and sundry.
    Yes Curtis , they’ll eventually find themselves left with nothing , whether they serve as collaborators, and traitors to their own cause, or the henchmen and women at the forefront of a destruction exercise.
    I know that you and others ,with typical naivety-or more likely- well disguised craftiness, would pretend that this conversation is about tourism per se , as it is linked to some proposed sexual liaisons between desperate , neglected and hungry 15 year olds, and pot bellied, mature women, and men ,on the island, as is frequently done in most of Latin America ,and Asia, but nothing could be further from the truth, my friend.
    It’s about finally developing a coherent policy to see that Tobago get’s it’s fair share of the natural resources of this country that the last 5 Prime Ministers, and their successive administrations never gave a priority to, as the historically , peaceful, loyal, and tolerant folks could always be expected to be accepting of any crumbs thrown to them after elections.
    It is the hoped that finally , the seemingly neo tribalist, that rule the roost presently,ably assisted ,by the token ,ever grateful to finally be in the political limelight , self hating individuals in their tow , eventually would get down to the business of serving the people of this twin Republic, instead of continually running for power , while in power, while looking over their collective shoulders ,like Lot’s wife.
    It is an appreciation, that mutually beneficial partnership must be made , and foreigners encouraged to play a role in our development , especially in Tobago. However , the point needs to be emphasized, the interest of our country must always be paramount, while we accommodate that of fellow global citizens, so that they too can get useful returns on their initial investments across our blessed pearl of a country.
    Shout with me Curtis -if you dare , as you push the pause button , from this exalted, cut and past task, of feeding us with your lofty articles to bolster this cheap, Manzanilla , or is it Carapichama,selfish anti Tobago, anti fellow citizens , arguments. Here it is , ‘a developed Tobago , is an asset to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, as it becomes less of an scio – economic- com political burden in the long run.’
    Here is another, so favored by ‘the wisest woman that ever lived.’ You remember her ,and if so , we can describe it as the Corus to the above truism, “de longest rope , has an end.”
    Keep it real my friend.
    Most importantly , love country, over tribe, as the dire consequences that will accrue for doing otherwise, is too ghastly to even contemplate.
    Nuff said!

    1. There is a land grab going on all over TNT right now. My elderly grandmothers land is being dissected in Manzanilla as we speak. Everyone want to grab land, but not one of them has a plan to help the nation profit. My great grand father (Arnold L Brooks) would be turning in his grave if he knew what was happening.
      When a wall is placed in our way, we can go around it, over it, or through it. However, if we wait for it to decompose we may have waited too long.
      Tobagonians have to figure out what they want to doe with their resources and do it. The country has to get behind a good plan that has the potential to serve all one way or another.

  6. I am sure the daughters of both races that serve Bunty and …BAr in St.James were taught values by their parents. No woman runs around pregnant thinking “my daughter is going to be a whore”. The conomic demands of our near slave socities, makes whores of them. You have to choose between twelve dollars an hour TT wages, and sex for hie which pays much better.
    One cannot raise good daughters in tourist hot-spots. The world is too much with us.

  7. Curtis my friend ,the comatose masses cannot wake up by themselves , or ignited into action, so as to further their self interest. That’s the job for real revolutionaries, especially in our case when we are surrounded by reactionary traitors ‘from within,’ and culturally confused ,selfish national enemies ‘from without-‘ and as for the latter, I am not referring to our borders.
    By the way, are you correctly reflecting that this Sat Maharaj phony escapades in Tobago ,is in fact a land grab, that is justified ,since it is occurring across the nation?
    Your grandparents are not the only ones turning over in their graves , due to this travesty, but then that’s why we voted for a new regime, whose major policy it would appear thus far, is to continually look backwards , in similar fashion to Lot’s wife.
    Let’s see what their plans are with respect to long overdue redistribution of state lands ,such as Caroni, now that sugar cane ,and rice paddy farming is dead, and invading low end Guyanese immigrant replacements ,are resorting to selling substandard goods on Charlotte and George Street, as opposed to gratefully following their nuvo rich domestic cousins to once beneficial farming.
    Remember Curtis ,the majority of the former workers have either migrated to more civilized countries ,due to fear of discrimination ,and genocide against them at the hands of those kinky headed Afro Trinis criminal miscreants,or are so mentally devastated ,since many lost most of their early retirement checks, in the HCU /Harry Harnarine/Sat Maharaj orchestrated Ponzi scheme, and most importantly,the fact that stupid gerrymandering claims proved to be a farce as a result of recent 29/12 victories.
    Forgive me Curtis , for as usual, I digress,what’s that you said, “the country should get behind a new plan that serve all?” Sounds like a nice slogan for the upcoming local election, ummmmm?

  8. Neal I don’t feel that this land grab is justified ah tall. Some may say that the Sat Maharaj is the largest perpetrator, but I can assure you with personal experience that there are others that are up to no good. Where is the regulation?
    TNT gets kicked around and treated like a third world country because there are so many crabs acting as if they have no sense. Right is right and wrong is wrong. No corrupt seizure of land is going to beneficial to the country and its residents. The selfish minds that would do such a thing are the same selfish minds that will keep the spoils of the land for themselves while the rest of the population wallows in poverty and ignorance.
    The significance of this land grab is immeasurable because TNT is small and there isn’t that much land out there. If there is not legal and transparent smart growth, then all that the country is going to be left with turmoil and senseless corruption.
    This regime was supposed to usher in change. If they fail to do so, not only do the fail a significant voting demographic, but a significant portion of the country. We are watching and they will be removed.
    Before the government should be redistributing land, it should be improving and strengthening the regulations and creating over site committees.
    It’s not a new slogan, but power to the people can work if the people aren’t separated by race, and class.
    Furthermore, no individual should be bigger than the group. When first class trips, lavish hotels, and cars become the norm, it is time for individuals to be removed and replaced by humble servants of the people for the people.
    Bottom line, there is a crisis and the masses are asleep. The election wasn’t the end, but the beginning.

  9. Perhaps one of the most cherished and important asset known to mankind is that of land.
    As one author P.H Gulliver ,described it, in an anthropological study entitled, ‘Land Shortage, Social Change, and Social Conflict in East Africa.’ “Land provides the means of existence, and without it a man is , or feels he is destitute. It is also the principal means of raising standards of living through the growing and sale of produce for cash in the market. Land has an emotional and mystical value beyond economic considerations. It represents social security and community .. identity ,and continuity , and commonly comes to be associated with , cultural resistance …and independence ..”
    History has shown that severe shortage of , major displacement from , lack thereof , and competition for land , can lead to intense conflicts.
    What has often been portrayed as ideological differences ,and such conflicts , are often disguised struggles to settle land disparities.
    The way our present leaders choose to address these,and similar challenging subjects moving forward , would be an indication as to if we are serious about enhancing the lives of all our citizens , building a safe, or secured environment, and developing our nation as a cohesive whole.
    Let’s therefore continue to keep our collective eyes on the prize, for nation building is never an easy proposition- especially in emerging societies such as ours ,where expectations are high , numerous pressing issues are left in suspension ,awaiting the efforts of caring ,committed, and just leadership.

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