By Candice Campbell Thursday, February 23 2012

SO the Carnival festivities have come to an end and by now most of you have received your ashes after feting, masquerading and liming up a storm for the season. The majority of the foreign visitors would have left by now but most definitely not without experiencing and seeing what Trinidad and Tobago (TT) is all about beyond Carnival.

But for the local, my fellow country man, what’s left to do after the music has stopped and the parties have gone back to the few and the far between? Well, after partying night after night you may be ready for the tranquil and serene, taking a cool down on one of our lovely beaches in Toco or Maracas and, of course, having a bake and shark or two. Maybe you want to partake in more adventurous types of activity such as hiking up Edith Falls in Chaguaramas or even mountain biking. Whatever you decide to do, it is all available to you and can be accessed through one of our very capable and competent TTTIC-certified Tour Operators.

Over the past couple of weeks, the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS) has presented a series of TTTIC and tourism standards awareness articles. These articles serve to sensitise the public of their rights, the standards that exist in the tourism industry and what they can expect from the tourism operators who are certified to these standards.

This week’s article focusses on the Tour Operator, and there are quite a few of them, all of whom are very capable, competent and enthusiastically passionate about their field and what they do in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Industry Certification (TTTIC) programme (pronounced Tee-tick) is a national certification programme designed to ensure that tourism operators and service providers in Trinidad and Tobago’s tourism sector conform to prescribed standards of quality in their operations. In essence, TTTIC aims to improve and standardise the quality of products and services being offered to visitors and locals, as well as provide a level of assurance that services provided by certified tourism operators will meet international standards.

The TTTIC programme targets:

1) Accommodation providers such as Hotels, Guesthouses, Bed and Breakfast properties and Self-catering facilities

2) Tour guides

3) Tour operators

4) Short-term motor vehicle rental operations

5) Tourist Land Transport Service Providers, which includes tourist taxi drivers and tour bus drivers as well as the operators.

By definition in the Tour Operators – Specification TTS 580:2009 Trinidad and Tobago Standard, a tour operator is a registered company that offers a range of tourism products or services for the international market, domestic market or a combination of both markets.

Another definition states that tour operators are businesses that combine two or more travel services (e.g. transport, accommodation, meals, entertainment, sightseeing) and sell them through travel agencies or directly to final consumers as a single product (called a package tour) for a global price. The components of a package tour might be pre-established or can result from an “a la carte” procedure in which the visitor decides the combination of services he/she wishes to acquire (Tourism Satellite Account: Recommended Methodological Framework, Eurostat, OECD, WTO, UNSD, 2001, para 3.46).

The role of the tour operator is to be the principal link between the tour party and the local population, culture and the environment, through the provision of a range of services for the international and domestic market.

Tour operators who have been certified by the Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Industry Certification programme would have met the minimum guidelines for registration set out in the Tour Operators- Specification TTS 580:2009 standard.

Quality control is essential to maintaining international standards and, as such, the programme ensures that operators would have been trained in marketing and research skills, industry regulations, tour packaging, planning and delivery, and the structure of the travel industry, including the advantages of technology.

When selecting a tour operator you can rest assured that they have experience in a highly sensitive and specialised area of tourism and that they provide all the necessary professional, legal and financial guarantees required by law, especially where it pertains to public liability insurance. All these aspects would have been verified and ascertained by the TTBS.

The role of the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards is to act as the independent third party auditor who ensures that the tourism operator conforms to the relevant national standards used in certifying a tourism operator in the TTTIC programme. You can identify TTTIC-approved Tour Operators through the display of the TTTIC logo, identification badges, decals or signage. Just look for the mark of quality, you surely cannot miss it!

You may be asking yourself why go through a tour operator and pay for something that you can probably organise yourself. The answer to that is quite simple. Tour operators have experience and expertise, as well as access to the experience and expertise of others,that you may not readily have available to you. They would have that insider knowledge that can inform you and heighten your overall experience, making it much more enjoyable compared to planning the tour or trip on your own. Imagine if you overlooked your safety gear when going kayaking or hiking, or if you are accompanied by an untrained individual who is unable to bring you back to the home base safely in the event of an emergency.

Tour operators are there to take care of these arrangements for you and they know their job. Perhaps you may pay a little more for your tour or holiday but, overall, you may find that this is the best way to go to ensure you have a safe and hassle free tour or vacation; not to mention you would be covered by public liability insurance and accompanied by a professional who knows his job.

One of the other great benefits of using a tour operator is that you have access to a range of different tour package options that can enable you to appreciate and discover Trinidad and Tobago from a whole new angle. Trust me, there is a lot to discover about sweet TT during the Lenten season. Whether you and a group of friends are planning a lime to go turtle or bird watching, or maybe it’s just a family trip where you can spend some quality time together and experience an historical tour such as an African History tour or even an Ancestry and Arrival Tour – you can rely upon any of our TTTIC-certified Tour Operators to aid you in planning your activity. So, whether it is an adventure, culture, diving, golfing or an historical package or tour you are after, any one of the country’s certified Tour Operators will have a variety of options that you can choose from.

Just remember to look for the mark of quality assurance – the TTTIC logo.

For more information on the TTBS’s tourism industry programmes and standards, please contact: Candice Campbell – Candice.Campbell@ttbs.org.tt

662-8827 (Ext 168)

Certification Division –

certifcation@ttbs.org.tt

662-8827 (Exts 169/165)

 

 

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