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The glossy side of T&T
By Stephen Spark
United Kingdom
Photograph By Stephen Spark
Wednesday 14 November 2012 : 9:00 GMT

A special Golden Jubilee Edition of a glossy hardback book, Trinidad and Tobago – Terrific and Tranquil, was launched at the World Travel Market travel trade show in London in early November.

This beautifully produced book, edited by Arif Ali, is very much the officially authorised portrait of the twin-island nation. It opens with a page each on the roles of the Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Development Company, while the list of ‘supporters’ includes pretty much every government ministry, official body and major company in the country. You can be sure that this book has been very carefully engineered not to rock the boat – the pictures of snakes and sharp-toothed caimans are nowhere near the pages on politicians!

Nevertheless, it takes us on an undeniably seductive ride. Most people will probably skim over the rather corporate text and concentrate instead on the photographs, which, naturally enough, show the best side of Trinidad and Tobago’s smiling face, from steelpan, mas and tassa, to sporting heroes and heroines, natural beauties, flora and fauna, and vibrant city scenes. It’s the one-stop shop for everything T&T, a sort of high-gloss Wikipedia in hard covers, and none the worse for that, for it is very well done. If you want to know about ‘the media since independence’, it’s here; if you’d like a ‘history of the presidency’, this is the place to find it. For the really keen, there are 14 ‘reasons to trade with and invest in Trinidad and Tobago’.

For most readers, however, it’s likely to be the pictures of Carnival, Jouvert and pan that arrest their attention. Abundant creativity and sheer zest for life are compellingly characteristic of Trinidadians and Tobagonians, as is amply demonstrated by the impressively long roll call of famous names in the section on the UK and North American diasporas. It’s these human stories, rather than worthy discussions on healthcare and the oil industry, that make this book worth the cover price.

Trinidad and Tobago – Terrific and Tranquil (ISBN 978-1-906190-37-8) is published by Hansib (; email: [email protected]) at £25 in the UK, $50 in the USA and €40 in the EU.

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