TTHTI collapse means another restart to education in Hospitality Sector …

Can we survive another restart to education in the Hospitality Industry? This question has been on my mind since the recent announcement of the voluntary winding up of the Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute (TTHTI).

It weighed heavily on my mind because I sat as chair for a period during 2016-18. Our country has a history of re-starts and breaking apart of institutions. Amongst the many institutions we have dismantled are Caroni 1977 Ltd, TIDCO, BWIA, Petrotrin TDC and now TTHTI.

Photo: Students at the TTHTI facility.
(via TTHTI)

In the case of the hospitality industry, we seem to be wilfully and systematically destroying each pillar on which it stands. There was a time when this wasteful approach to re-starting could have been tolerated because the country was awash with oil and gas money but those days are over.

We have to find ways to re-design, repair and continue building on our past successes. Successful governance is deliberate and premeditated. It requires vision, planning, and significant amounts of hard work. We must design for that success.

For TTHTI, this is the third iteration of a training institution for the hospitality sector. Maybe the sector will get lucky and the notion that ‘the third time is the charm’ will apply—but I don’t believe in luck.

Forty-eight years ago, the Trinidad and Tobago Hotel School was established in partnership with the Canadian government and the Ryerson Technical Institute. That trial led to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago taking over the school in 1975.

The school navigated rough waters and managed to stay afloat. In 1996, the late William Aguiton, as President of the Hotel Association, led negotiations with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for US$2 million to help reform the Hotel School into TTHTI.

Photo: TTHTI CEO Brian Frontin (right) and board member Delano Ribeiro.
(via TTHTI.edu.tt)

Now in 2020, there is news of the winding down of TTHTI and chatter about poor performance, funding deficits and political interference.

TTHTI has an excellent track record of providing opportunities for students who did not choose traditional professions as their path. Over the years, hundreds have excelled and become successful entrepreneurs based on the foundation provided by the school.

The region has benefited both as an option for young persons to learn the art of hospitality and from reciprocal arrangements for the placement of interns. While TTHTI has high global brand recognition, it has underperformed in transforming the quality of the hospitality sector and customer service in the country.

This might be an unfair criticism and one can easily argue that customer service transformation was not its mandate, and what is needed is a focussed effort to improve customer service.

Hospitality and Tourism are inextricably linked and successive leaders have paid lip service to the potential of the sectors while bemoaning its underperformance. If the government is serious about the Hospitality and Tourism sector, it will have to re-constitute the school under new arrangements and leadership—but the nexus with the hotel and restaurants will continue to exist.

Photo: TTHTI students show off their butter sculptures.

This is just a most unfortunate development which has been exacerbated by Covid-19.

Maybe this is an opportunity to deliver on a PNM 2015 manifesto promise which refers to ‘converting the Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute (THTI) into a full-fledged university’. (page 74, PNM Manifesto 2015).

Kudos to Dr Rowley, but now Persad-Bissessar should step aside for UNC to re-create itself …

Congratulations to the PNM on their victory at the polls under the leadership of Dr Keith Christopher Rowley. Congratulations also to the ongoing Leader of the Opposition Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Unless the results in the marginal constituencies are in the single digits, it would be a foolhardy pursuit to seek any recounts. I hope that as the sting of the defeat recedes, this idea will also fade from the memory of Mrs Persad-Bissessar—therefore sparing the population of this aggravation.

Photo: UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
(via UNC)

Mrs Persad-Bissessar’s biggest obligation is to provide the UNC with an opportunity to re-imagine what the party can look like on Election Night 2025. The first step in this process is to provide a clear path by resigning as MP and anointing a suitable successor to run in the Siparia By-Election which will be triggered.

From the historical patterns, that person will be successful— so it is a relatively risk-free activity which also has the potential to help the party heal, re-create itself and signal a different role for the Opposition in Parliament.

It can happen that a loss may be a better teacher than a win, especially since the winner is not likely to change strategies. This loss provides the UNC with a tremendous opportunity to think deeply about our society and how future elections can be conducted.

Unfortunately, the 2020 campaigns continued the focus on an ‘us versus them’ strategy and not on messages which spoke to: ‘we, the people…’.

My subjective observation is that the electioneering and dirty tricks have reached a new low with attacks and counter-attacks. Some believe that it is entrenched and all we can expect is the continuation of gutter politics, but I am not convinced.

Photo: Then Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (left) shakes hands with her successor, Dr Keith Rowley, en route to Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa.
(Courtesy News.Gov.TT)

I still believe that there are citizens who want better and are interested in the social transformation that is required to make Trinidad and Tobago a place of excellence. If we can transform the political parties, there is hope for our country.

A re-imagined UNC has an opportunity to embrace a digital strategy as it rebuilds itself, using platforms which allow it to keep in touch with members in real time. The UNC might take the lead on targeting different segments of the voter population directly and not having to rely on third party platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which currently appear to have their own filters, biases and priorities.

A properly re-imagined UNC will be able to identify new areas of focus and therefore keep its membership continuously engaged around its plans and activities. If this is done, a permanent change in the election game might occur and this can steer the country in a new, beneficial direction.

The UNC has been given an opportunity to analyse, adapt, build and prepare for 2025. Unfortunately, the pattern is for parties to use that time in opposition to tear down and have a mad scamper to appeal to the electorate in the final months before the subsequent General Election.

For the love of your country, please Mrs Persad-Bissessar, go in peace!

Photo: UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar on the campaign trail in the build-up to the 2020 General Election.
(via UNC)

My April 07, 2020 letter to P.M. Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Congratulations on your 55th month as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Mr. Prime Minister, despite your stridency on the campaign trail in 2015, public transportation continues to be chaotic and unreliable.  I am taking this opportunity to suggest for the 3rd time that you make Chaguaramas into our first “Bus only” city.  This thought was stimulated by the “FluTag” disaster, St. Peter’s Day Celebrations, every Carnival Fete in Chaguaramas and the visual of 2 massive car parks which routinely house the private vehicles owned by members of the Regiment and Coast Guard.  The stadium can be used as a car park and regular bus shuttles could operate on time from there.  It would require the registration of resident’s vehicles and the issuance of passes.

I sincerely hope that you will at least establish a committee to identify the feasibility of this idea or some other idea which can positively impact transportation in Chaguaramas.

Yours for our country!

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Comm
Citizen

My February 07, 2020 letter to P.M. Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Dr. Rowley

Congratulations on your 53rd month as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

It is almost 10 years since Despers was chased from the “Hill” by their children and the band continues to move from property to property in search of a home.

May I suggest that the property on which they now practice be converted into a National Pan Theatre and a home for Despers.  For many years the Government Printery was housed there which makes its allocation a simple exercise. Such a move by your government will not go un-noticed by the people of the “Hill” and the “Pan Fraternity”.

Yours in the interest of development.

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Communications
Concerned Citizen

My October 7th, 2019 letter to P.M. Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Dr. Rowley
Congratulations on your 49th month as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

This is my 4th letter to you requesting that your government make good on its campaign promise to treat with Public Transportation as a quality of life issue.  

May I once again suggest that you appoint an interdisciplinary team of locals to publicly report on possible solutions within 90 days.  You are very aware of Dr. Trevor Townsend and Dr. Ray Furlonge who have both written and spoken publicly on the issue and whom I am sure would respond to any call for public service.

Yours Respectfully

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Communications
Concerned Citizen

My Sept 7, 2019 letter to P.M. Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Dr. Rowley

Congratulations on your 48th month as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. 

More than one year ago you indicated that in 2019 there will be a comprehensive ban on the use of styrofoam products and I wrote asking that single use plastics be included in that initiative.

I am requesting an update on the action plan associated with the implementation of this ban including the status of the legislative agenda.

Yours in the interest of development.

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Communications 
Concerned Citizen

My August 7th, 2019 letter to P.M. Rowley.

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Dr. Rowley

Congratulations on your 47th month as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. 

Sir, the focus on guns and drugs is commendable however we continue to allow traffic violations and indiscipline on the roads.  Some of the indiscipline comes from the fact that people who “bought” their driver’s permit are unlikely to be able to read and write.

May I suggest a Public Awareness campaign of 15 second radio and television advertisements done in standard English and focussing on the rules contained in the regulations handbook.  

 Yours in the interest of development.

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)

MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Communications 

Concerned Citizen

My April 7th, 2019 letter to P.M. Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Dr. Rowley

Congratulations on your 43rd month as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

I commend the recent attempt by the Airports Authority to introduce ATM payments for parking at the Airport despite the initial problems.  May I suggest the aggressive implementation of online payments for all government business.  It is sad that I can purchase an item in China using a digital device while having coffee in my home but I cannot conduct any government business in the same manner.

Yours in the interest of development.

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Communications
Citizen