Trinidad and Tobago’s small tourism enterprises project raising bar for excellence

Trinidad and Tobago’s small tourism enterprises project raising bar for excellence Belinda Charles, STEP Coordinator

The Organization of American States (OAS) has recognized Trinidad and Tobago’s Small Tourism Enterprises Project (STEP), which is managed by the Tourism Development Company Limited (TDC), as a Caribbean leader, raising the bar for excellence among service providers in the region.

The program was highlighted at a recent forum for Small Tourism Enterprises hosted by the OAS, in collaboration with the Canadian International Development Agency and the governments of Luxembourg and Serbia, from July 12 to 13, in Antigua and Barbuda.

In a dynamic multi-media presentation entitled, Developing a Culture of Innovation and Excellence, STEP Coordinator Belinda Charles outlined the pioneering training available to small entrepreneurs under the program, including association management, wilderness training, social media, and niche marketing, as well as an institutional strengthening, capacity building, and strategic planning project, which aims to help tourism associations gain self-sufficiency, independence, and autonomy in their operations.

“Over the years, and through a process of collaboration with our small tourism entrepreneurs, we have developed a flagship range of relevant training and capacity building programs, which are designed to ensure that small tourism enterprises can effectively contribute to both the economic and social development of Trinidad and Tobago,” said Charles.

STEP also provides information, through a resource center, support, advisory services, and skills training to tour operators, tour guides, tourist transport service providers, and accommodation providers of less than seventy-five rooms.
“This framework,” Charles explained, “has provided a mechanism for increased levels of collaboration among small tourism enterprises, which has resulted in the development of a stronger, more confident, and competitive body of entrepreneurs.”

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Designed to support Trinidad and Tobago’s national development goals, the STEP program focuses on developing inter-disciplinary skills, enhanced customer service, increased employment opportunities, and a more empowered workforce.
The program also delivers significant contributions to the overall development of Trinidad and Tobago’s tourism industry by providing a comprehensive approach to fostering innovation, high performance, and profitability among small entrepreneurs through cutting-edge and industry relevant training.

A regional initiative of the OAS, STEP was adopted in Trinidad and Tobago in 1999, and subsequently re-launched in 2007 as a flagship program under the TDC.

At the core of the program is training and capacity building, which seeks to correct any areas of deficiency in small business operations, while providing information, support, and skills training on service quality, a culture of hospitality, social responsibility, marketing, technology, and sustainability to small tourism operators.