Friday, June 10 2022


Whether we are monarchists or not, it is right and fitting that we pay tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who celebrates her Platinum Jubilee this weekend – 70 years as a monarch, on the throne since 1952, the first British royal to achieve such a milestone.

It is a remarkable beacon of dedication, resilience and endurance for anyone. Like our President, the Queen has no real power, yet she wields great authority, and it would be wrong to believe that their roles are not without subtle political influence. The trick is to make sure they are never perceived as being political or that their actions or words in any way cross the acceptable line.

Few politicians could hope to achieve what QEII has achieved, not in a sustained fashion for seven decades, especially during the difficult 1990s and times of active anti-monarchy sentiment and all the seedy and gripping family scandals and intrigues that continue and change. . in nature, more recently the accelerated pace of holding the royal family accountable for its connection to slavery.

Increasingly, the effects of the pernicious system that lasted for centuries are recognized as still being deeply ingrained in people’s minds in Britain and the former colonies, along with the lasting economic impact. Let’s see where it goes once the young royals are in the hot seat.

In an interview I conducted for the BBC with the former King of Spain Juan Carlos, he insisted that a monarchy is only as viable as the person on the throne. He didn’t keep his own advice, but the Spanish monarchy, with the reigning son of Juan Carlos trying to clean up the mess his father made, looks set to weather the storm.

Tough days are also ahead for the Windsors.

One of the arguments in favor of the existence of the British royal family is the fact that its members and the institution itself, with its palaces, its art collection and its memorabilia, constitute a great tourist attraction and provide huge revenues to the state coffers. They are the source of all the old-fashioned pomp and circumstance that attracts thousands, if not millions, of international visitors every year.

The current UK Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nadine Dorries, remarked in a BBC Jubilee interview that mass celebrations are what Britain does best. better, which is only partly true. He is also the person who wrongly wants to dismantle the BBC, another great British creation and institution, created in 1922 and 30 years older than the Jubilee; but let us be guided by it on the question of mass culture. She made me wonder what we do best as a tourist destination in Trinidad and also in Tobago.

We seem happy that eco-friendly cruise liners are returning to the port of Port of Spain this year, but what exactly will passengers be flocking to live in our once charming capital? Pray, close your eyes and imagine that you have disembarked from a ship on this well-endowed land where the green mountains hold promise but, unfortunately, you are only here for a few hours.

What would you like to see as a curious tourist? What is our Unique Selling Point (USP) that might keep you coming back one day?

There are a few kiosks at the harbor with inauthentic trinkets that don’t compete well with what’s on offer on the other islands, and when you venture out, the few tourist shops that line the Brian Lara promenade don’t do much better.

Some of our grand historic buildings have been restored and the hustle and bustle of downtown Port of Spain speaks volumes about our way of life, but it would be a challenge to sample local food in a pleasant atmosphere. and apart from the island-wide welcome tune of the traveling panmen on the quayside, there is no evidence of the great music for which TT could be internationally famous.

Our national museum and our art gallery compare poorly with those of Jamaica, and even with those of Barbados, whose institutions are newer. Our botanical gardens are in a terrible state – there is very little replanting, the orchid garden is neglected, the dilapidated fallen roofs are still unrepaired.

With more time, you could explore our beautiful nature, but where are the marked trails and services and would you even dare to explore when your government advises that TT is an international murder capital? Asa Wright, with the sweeping view of the valley now marred by illegal quarrying, is still closed, the future museum at Brechin Castle is a ghost, the Capildeo House is derelict, the captivating Caroni Swamp ride offers ugly, bare evidence of the environmental damage of our energy sector – and the list goes on, not to mention Tobago, so admired for its unspoiled nature, which it would be good to try to preserve.

A visitor currently living here asked, “Where can I find your culture?” »

Granted, covid has shut down a lot, and we can’t live for our visitors, but we’re not telling a good story about ourselves.

There is an erroneous focus on Carnival numbers. Culture is so much more than that, and our tourism experts still don’t see it.


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