Tourism body CEO sacked after fallout with line minister

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Former CEO of Tourism Trinidad Kurtis Rudd who was appointed September 20, 2021. – Photo courtesy Tourism Trinidad

TOURISM Trinidad Ltd (TTL) has fired its CEO Kurtis Rudd after just ten months on the job.

Rudd who admitted this was his “dream job” was last night weighing his legal options.

He is the third CEO to be appointed in the company’s short history.

His predecessors were Camille Campbell and Heidi Alert. Neither of the three were ever confirmed in the position.

Alert acted in the position from 2019 to 2021 and returned to her substantive post as manager, Destination Development making way for Rudd. She acted in her substantive post for a short time after but her managerial contract was not renewed and she subsequently left the company.

Sources claimed Rudd’s termination had to do with differences between himself and Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, Randall Mitchell over the awarding of contracts and his reported failure to comply with instructions.

Mitchell did not answer several calls to his cellphone on Saturday, neither did he reply to a WhatsApp message seeking comment on the firing of the CEO, on whom the post-covid turnaround of the tourism industry was pegged..

There was no confirmation either of a new appointee or acting CEO and no notice of Rudd’s termination was announced by the company.

Newsday understands the termination letter signed by chairman of the board Cliff Hamilton was handed to Rudd on June 27, but went into effect on June 30. The Board hires and fires.

Rudd confirmed his status.

“I did not resign. I can confirm I was terminated. I believe it was unjustified. I am exploring my options so I really do not want to say anything right now that would compromise my situation.”

Asked if any warning was given that the Board was dissatisfied with his performance, Rudd would not budge from his response.

On September 20, 2021, Rudd, was appointed in this company’s short four-year history, was welcomed with open arms as a marketing veteran with over 25 years of senior management.

He was plunged into the deep end at the time as top managerial positions were left vacant as contracts for corporate secretary and manager, legal services, strategy and marketing manager, destination development and chief financial officer, were not renewed.

In a release two days after his appointment, the company said in a period when the tourism sector was facing its greatest challenges due to the pandemic, Rudd with his extensive marketing, strategic communication expertise, was poised to re-energise the island’s tourism economy post covid19.

He was quoted as saying this was his dream job and was looking forward to working with the ministry and all stakeholders in shaping and driving the tourism sector’s agenda to achieve long term sustainability and inclusive growth.

Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell –

Rudd, a former Prestige Holdings marketing vice-president, officially started work on September 20 taking over from Alert who reverted to her substantive post as manager of destination development.

He has also served as a senior lecturer at UWI-Roytec and a Fatima College alumnus, and holds an MBA in General Management from Henley Management College.

Rudd was touted as being able to “re-energise the island’s tourism economy through this most difficult period in history, unite the sector, and define a clear path for the safe restart of international travel,” according to a release from the company announcing his appointment.

I|n turn, he said he was proud to join the “talented Tourism Trinidad team” whose goal is to promote “the unique and extraordinary tourism assets of our island to the rest of the world.”

“We are at a critical moment in the development of Trinidad’s tourism industry, and we need the strategic collaboration of the private and public sector to take advantage of the market opportunities ahead and move out of this pandemic,” said Rudd then.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to work with the board of directors, led by Cliff Hamilton. We are fortunate to have someone of his calibre and global tourism experience to lead the organisation.

In September 2021,Hamilton replaced former government minister Howard Chin Lee as chariman and the othermembers of the board Natania Mack (deputy chairman), Avalaughn Huggins, Shezrae Nesbitt, Terrance Bhagwatsingh, Lesley-Ann Assee, Brian Lewis, Devon Seale, and Shivana Inalsingh were reappointed to serve for two more years.

The tourism industry reopened on April 4 after almost two years, but before Rudd could initiate his action plan, the axe fell on him.

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