In T&T: New board at TDC

31 January 2012

Fresh faces at TDC weeks before Carnival 2012…”revenue and employment” cited as areas of focus.

Hotelier Rajiv Omah-Maharaj Shandilya is the new chairman of the Tourism Development Co Ltd while Miss Universe 1977 Janelle Penny Commissiong-Chow is the deputy chairman.

The 12 board members were presented with their instruments of appointment yesterday at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) by Tourism Minister Dr Rupert Griffith.

Shandilya is chief executive of the Chancellor Hotel and Conference Centre, St Ann’s. He is also an extended relation of Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh.

Gopeesingh told the Express in a brief telephone interview yesterday that Shandilya’s appointment to the position was not influenced by this relationship. “He is related to my wife, but that had no input in the decision. I recused myself from any involvement,” Gopeesingh said.

Shandilya’s wife Lisa, who co-owns the Chancellor, also spoke to the Express by telephone yesterday and confirmed the relationship saying that he was Gopeesingh’s brother-in-law, but they were not close and the relationship was not a consideration. “We have been in this business for years, and people don’t seem to understand the value of tourism; that is what he (Shandilya) hopes to bring to the position,” she said.

Speaking to the Express after his appointment, Shandilya said, “I’ve always wanted to do national service, and after seeing the initiatives (by the government) and worldwide, especially in emerging economies, I was encouraged to do my part. I have a lot of institutional knowledge and I do a lot of research, so knowing where we can take Trinidad and Tobago fuelled my enthusiasm to be part of this.”

Commissiong-Chow said she was excited to be part of a board that encompasses everything that Trinidad and Tobago has to offer. “Our focus right now will be revenue and employment, and I’m looking forward to it. I think I have experience in terms of being a cultural ambassador travelling abroad for all these years, so I think I have something to offer,” she said.

In his address, Griffith said that being part of the TDC board was both an honour and a formidable challenge.

“It is our hope that under the astute and dynamic leadership of (Shandilya and Commissiong) that the profile of Trinidad and Tobago will be raised within the extremely competitive tourism arena,” said Griffith.

The previous TDC board, headed by Tobagonian George Stanley Beard, was disbanded by Griffith late November last year, because of their inability to agree on issues.


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