Chief Sec: Expect more public-private partnerships

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Erlan Clarke, director of Opulence Promotions, at a press conference last week. – David Reid

THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine says the assembly will be engaging in more partnerships with private sector to carry out activities and initiatives in Tobago.

He made the statement on Thursday during a news conference hosted by Opulence Promotions and Events Management at the Mt Irvine Bay Resort. The briefing was organised to update the media about Utopia Weekend, the hybrid jazz event, held over the weekend.

The THA and the Tobago Tourism Agency (TTAL) partnered with Opulence Promotions to host the event.

Augustine, who spoke virtually, said THA-private sector partnerships will more than likely be the model of the future.

“Most definitely. In fact, we feel that there are several activities that the THA engages in that, really and truly, the private sector should be taking the lead in,” he said.

“That will result in cost savings for the THA on one end but more than that, it will result in building the capacity of the private sector and allowing the private sector to really grow and develop.”

Augustine said the THA had decided, earlier this year, not to host the annual Tobago Jazz Experience, one of the island’s signature cultural events.

But, he said the THA was willing to partner with any promoter who wished to host an event.

Augustine said Opulence Promotions put forward a workable proposal. “This model, I think, is a working model. We will perfect it. And as the new fiscal year rolls around, we will be able to launch out in many other endeavours, not just in events management, not just in the entertainment sector but in so many other areas, including public infrastructure, we will be looking at that public-private partnership model.” In partnership with Opulence Promotions, Augustine said the THA was able to host jazz on a shoestring budget. “In fact, the promoters are spending most of the money on this year’s activities.”

He said similar events in the past had attracted large crowds.

“These events have resulted in booked out flights to and from Tobago. It has resulted in increased accommodation over the period. It has resulted in several other fringe activities that benefit from these experiences. “This weekend, Tobagonians are just encouraged to go out and be excellent hosts to our visitors and ensure that you are part of the activities and celebrations that will happen.”

TTAL CEO Louis Lewis said, “This really gives us an opportunity to whet the appetites of patrons and potential patrons for what’s to come in the years going forward.”