Tobago Hospitality & Tourism Institute
Celebrates 25 Years of Service
“An anniversary puts a pin on the calendar to remind us of something that matters to us,” says THTI’s CEO, Dr Stephen Sheppard. “It’s a chance to reflect on a relationship or a cultural identity, to come together to celebrate a joyous event. Anniversaries are an important part of life. The 25th anniversary of the founding of the Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute is very significant because it signals sterling service to the Tobago community for a quarter of a century. Other tertiary institutions have come to Tobago and left sometime after, but THTI has endured. What is even more significant is that THTI is the only higher education institution operating in Tobago that is headquartered in Tobago, which makes it indigenous.”
Nadia Lewis, Manager Financial Services (on right) with her team (Esther Baptiste, Ikeisha Niles, Arlette Legerton, Kris Siewdass, Kelly Spencer- Douglas and Terence Lovelace) and Information Technology Officer, Rodney Stewart share a celebratory pose during meet & greet with students and staff.
Dr Sheppard expressed his enthusiasm for the Institute’s future: “THTI is poised to continue serving Tobago and Trinidad for another 25 years and beyond, possibly as part of a larger institution, and we look forward to continuing serving and playing our part in national development.”
The Institute was founded on September 8, 1997 to address the need for trained professionals in the growing tourism and hospitality industries in order to compete alongside other Caribbean islands in a globally competitive market.
Established as the Tobago campus of the Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute, the institution opened its doors with a small cohort of 50 full-time and part-time students.
Each founding member of the faculty had a vested interest in the institute, and the instructors created the course outlines and did the work to prepare the Institute’s first students to undertake the Associate Degree programmes in Tourism Management and Culinary Arts, as well as a handful of certificate programmes. They visited villages all over Tobago, from Charlotteville to Scarborough and to Moriah, to recruit students. The number of students enrolled grew from 50 in the first semester to 113 by the end of the first year.
“It wasn’t a grand opening because we were not working with a significant budget at the time. However, every founding member saw the vision and worked hard to achieve it. We were committed to making the school a success. As instructors, we knew what we wanted to achieve. So we rolled up our sleeves and headed out as the THTI Caravan, visiting communities all over Tobago,” says Errol Thomas, former Food and Beverage Lecturer
THTI Students Shiraz Brown, Rebecca Sammy, Ravanna Ramsawak, Alexander Chen and Daniel Callis celebrate at THTI’s 25th Anniversary Thanksgiving Ceremony held on the 5th September, 2002.
Two decades plus later, THTI boasts four (4) Associate Degree Programmes and more than 20 short courses in Culinary Arts, Hospitality Studies, Food and Beverage, and Tourism Studies. Along the way, the Institute has recorded some significant achievements, beginning with incorporation in 2006 as a non-profit organization under the ownership of the Tobago House of Assembly. That same year, THTI fully implemented the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) Caribbean Tourism Learning Systems (CTLS) Core Curriculum programme which aligned the Institute’s courses with those taught at other institutions throughout the region. The curriculum enables students to seamlessly transfer between tourism training organizations and, more importantly, offers a wider range of opportunities for employment.
The Institute continued to expand, forging regional and international partnerships and recognition. In 2009, THTI became the first indigenous Tobago institution to be registered with the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT). In 2014, THTI was awarded Institutional Accreditation and was re-accredited in 2019 for an additional 5 years. Presently, THTI is among the list of approved and accredited educational institutions and is the only ACTT accredited hospitality and tourism institution in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Many THTI graduates have gone on to further their studies, have taken up supervisory and managerial positions with tourism and hospitality organizations, or have formed their own businesses, says CEO, Dr. Stephen Sheppard. “THTI has a vibrant alumni community in Tobago and they will be a significant part of these anniversary celebrations because they were part of the history of THTI and they have their stories to tell.”
From the early years, THTI has played a significant role in Tobago and in activities beyond its campus and academic programmes. From hosting hospitality functions at events such as Tobago Jazz Festival, reception at the official residence of the THA Chief Secretary to the recent TPAC Bitter Cassava Twin Island Tour at Queen’s Hall in Trinidad, the Institute has established its reputation and influence as a trusted partner of the hospitality and tourism industry in Tobago and beyond.
Ms. Hazel Taylor, Coordinator, Continuing Education and Mrs. Joanna Moses-Wothke, former Academic Dean and Strategic Academic Consultant – Academic Services at Tobago Hospitality & Tourism Institute
In 2021, THTI partnered with the Tobago Tourism Agency (TTAL) to deliver the island-wide Tobago Industry Customer Service Training programme in collaboration with the world’s leading customer service programme leader, Uplifting Service. This first of its kind, 3-year customer service training programme will help to create a culture of service excellence in Tobago. THTI understands and embodies the knowledge and experiences of Tobagonians and is well-positioned to customise an internationally recognised methodology to fit the vision of our island. To find out more about this programme, visit: www.thti.edu.tt/training
THTI’s value proposition continues to grow as the leader in hospitality and tourism training throughout the country. The recent launch and trademarking of the Institute’s Taste of Tobago brand as a marketing platform for Tobago’s hospitality and tourism entrepreneurial spirit is one of many examples of innovation and leadership. To find out more about this platform visit: www.thetasteoftobago.com
As Tobago heads into the festivities of October, the Tobago Carnival Committee has engaged THTI to provide customer service training to all their volunteers who will be assisting in the Carnival events.
The Institute’s 25th anniversary programme will be undertaken throughout the next 12 months, having kicked-off celebrations with a Thanksgiving Ceremony on September 5, 2022. The staff are working on a programme of activities which include launching a new organizational logo, signage and beautification of the campus entrance, community outreach, campus events and much more. Activities will be published on all THTI digital channels and everyone can join the celebrations on social media, by following the hashtags #thti25 and #thti_tobago
The Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute (THTI) is Tobago’s premier tertiary education institution that develops human capital for the economy’s hospitality, tourism, and related sectors. THTI was founded in 1997 to address the need for trained professionals to compete in a globally competitive market alongside other Caribbean islands. In 2009, THTI became the first indigenous Tobago institution registered with the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT). THTI attained ACTT Institutional Accreditation status in 2014 and again in 2019. Located on a 100-acre estate of pristine forest lands overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, THTI’s sprawling campus is nestled within farming and fishing communities of Mount St. George, Tobago. The Institute offers many short courses in Tourism; Culinary Arts, Hospitality and Food & Beverage alongside its standard Associate Degree Programmes.