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A Riot of Colour, Noise
Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2011

By Derren Joseph
March 09, 2011

Last week we hosted a couple of coaches from the Dominican Republic (DR) who were here for the Caribbean Area International Schools Sports Association (CAISSA) boy's Basketball and girl's Soccer tournament. As I chatted with one of the coaches, I was surprised to learn that in the DR, Carnival-type celebrations also took place in the month of February. Of course, given the size of the population in DR it sounds like their celebrations may already be bigger than ours and this tourism dependent territory is looking at ways to leverage their festival to attract more visitors. Have you seen the YouTube clip circulating of the Carnival in Japan? We in Trinidad and Tobago should not take our Carnival for granted.

I have been racking up some frequent flyer miles recently. So much so that I think that I now know parts of the American Airlines welcome video by heart. What struck me most about it however, is that part where they say—"thank you for choosing to fly with us…we know that you have a choice when it comes to air travel…we appreciate your business." Yes our Carnival is unique and special and wonderful, but every competing destination is just as convinced as we are. We need to raise our game.

A friend of mine put a link on my Facebook wall. It was a link to a blog from someone called Trinimummy entitled "right now I feel really distressed about the tourism industry." Feel free to Google it, but with Trinimummy's permission, here is her comment: "Right now I am distressed! I volunteered to go to TDC to get some tour information for a friend of mine. When I go I am given a brochure from T&TITOA Trinidad & Tobago Incoming Tour Operators Association. I asked the receptionist if this information is on TDC's site?? She says yes but NOT the corporate site use— "Needless to say when I go there, I can't find what I am looking for since the operators link takes me back to the HOME PAGE… I must say the lobby of the TDC office looks beautiful tho! ...Silly me decided to then go to the sites in the brochure. Half of them were no longer up and the other half well... SO I decided to go to the association site at I feel a little better, the list is there and the sites there are mostly working...we can do better?!"

This type of online commentary we can ill afford. Nevertheless, Trinimummy and the many other stakeholders who were feeling distressed about the downward spiral of our tourism industry are feeling a little more hopeful these days. It is understood that the newly installed Board of Directors at our Tourism Development Company Ltd (TDC) has agreed that ‘business as usual' was not a serious option and are in the process of restructuring the organisation to enable it to face the challenges that seem to have been getting the better of us. Chairman George Stanley Beard is showing just how serious he is about turning around our industry. We wish Beard and his team all the best. To end on a positive note, another link to make it to my Facebook wall recently was a write up on our Carnival in the influential Travel Weekly trade magazine by one of the journalists who I believe were hosted by the TDC in 2010.

Joanna Booth wrote—"Disregard Rio and let there be no mention of New Orleans. Ask any islander where the real Carnival happens, and they'll tell you that it's right here in one of the Caribbean's southernmost islands. There's nothing quite like being in Port-of-Spain for this captivating riot of colour and noise. The country goes into unofficial shutdown over Carnival, because no one wants to miss the party, and Trinidadians know better than most how to throw a party." The article goes on to suggest that travel agents "sell Trinidad Carnival to clients who love the Caribbean and love letting their hair down. "It's the ultimate trophy trip—one for list-makers to tick off...Whether clients play or watch, it's an awesome spectacle, utterly infectious fun, and a definite contender for the 'Best Show on Earth' title." My name is Derren Joseph and I love my country. As always, I end by saying that despite our challenges, we are so blessed to live in this beautiful land. Let us continue to have the audacity of hope in the future of our beloved country.

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