Maritime committee improving the commercial maritime and yachting industry environment

Trinidad and Tobago’s commercial maritime and yachting industries are the beneficiaries of several projects being undertaken by the Standing Committee for the Development of the Maritime Sector. The Committee, established in 2016 under the chairmanship of Senator the Honourable Franklin Khan, Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, and facilitated by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, has focused on the implementation of projects to address matters integral to the commercial maritime and yachting sectors.

Yachting in Trinidad and Tobago is now guided by a Cabinet approved National Yachting Policy, which outlines strategies for the sustainable development of the leisure marine industry. Further, the Committee advocated for the exemption of Value Added Tax (VAT) for foreign yacht services which became effective on February 1, 2017. A sector specific marketing and promotional plan is now guiding stakeholder efforts to increase the number of cruiser arrivals. Additionally, leisure marine visitors will in the near future accrue benefits from the impending Single Harmonized Immigration Form which is engaging the attention of the legislative drafters. The new form will provide a more efficient and customer oriented experience for persons entering the country by pleasure craft.

In December 2016, the Committee facilitated collaboration with the Youth Training and Employment Partnership Programme (YTEPP) Limited and Caribbean Dockyard and Engineering Services Limited (CARIDOC) which resulted in the introduction of a Maritime Apprenticeship Programme. To date 17 graduates from the programme are now able to access new employment opportunities in the maritime sector. The Committee’s work, through the Maritime Services Division, Ministry of Works and Transport has also resulted in the creation of guidelines for the transshipment and cold stacking of vessels and the establishment of an inter-agency Committee to monitor the sector’s activities. Both cold stacking and transshipment have potential for foreign exchange revenue generation.

Through collaboration with stakeholders, the Ministry of Trade and Industry facilitated the Tobago Sailing Regatta on May 16 - 19, 2018 and specialised customer service training for frontline yachting stakeholders. The Tobago Sailing Regatta attracted 19 vessels and created both economic opportunities and visible branding for Trinidad and Tobago as a yachting destination.

Support continues for the formulation of a National Maritime Policy; a Maritime Spatial Plan for the Western Gulf of Praia and the development of marinas in Trinidad and Tobago. The Committee’s membership acknowledges the role of Government as facilitator to ensure the development of the commercial maritime and yachting industries which can make a meaningful contribution to economic diversification through revenue generation, job creation and foreign exchange earnings.

The Committee’s membership includes the Ministries of Planning and Development; Tourism; Works and Transport; the Ministry of Finance (Customs and Excise Division); the Ministry of National Security (Immigration Division) and the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (Coast Guard); the Tobago House of Assembly and representatives of the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA); the Environmental Management Authority (EMA); the University of Trinidad and Tobago, Maritime Programme; the Yacht Services Association of Trinidad and Tobago (YSATT) and the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago.  The Shipping Association of Trinidad and Tobago has been invited to sit on the Committee.

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