The much-talked about Caricom COVID-19 Travel Bubble is now in effect but apparently only a few of the member states have officially put it into operation.
THE NEW TODAY understands that only four of the islands – St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados – have put their arrangements in place and have commenced operating the Travel Bubble.
There is no Grenada on the list of countries which have implemented or put arrangements in place to commence operating the Travel Bubble and only the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government can give answers and provide an explanation for the island’s exclusion thus far.
This Travel Bubble for the region is interested in the Grenada context in light of the announcement from Sandals La Source that it will be re-opening its resort at Point Salines with effect from October 1 with flights from Covid hot-bed areas like Miami and to a lesser extent New York.
It is unfortunate that it is a hotel and not the Government of Grenada which was elected by the people in a general election to make such an important announcement on flights coming into the country.
This development raises the important question – who is really running the tourism industry in Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique? Is it the hoteliers and in particular the big one in the south or the Mitchell government?
THE NEW TODAY is not opposed to the re-opening of the hotels since it means jobs for our people but our government has to show and demonstrate to the people that it is in charge of the affairs of the country.
It should not be Sandals LaSource to make the announcement about international flights landing at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) but the Prime Minister of the country or to a lesser extent the Minister of Tourism & Civil Aviation, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen.
The Minister of Health Nicholas Steele announced about two weeks ago that a list of new Covid-19 protocols will be unveiled by government.
This newspaper suspects that the new regime was being influenced by the moves being made by Sandals La Source to re-open the resort and to avoid its closure for an extended period of time like what is happening at Spice Island Beach Resort and the loss of over 200 jobs.
It is interesting to see the new protocols being contemplated by government when compared with those that have been implemented by Sandals at its resorts in other Caribbean islands.
These protocols from government must apply equally across the board and should not favour tourists especially from the United States where Sandals gets most of its business at the expense of our nationals living in New York and Miami and who are anxious to come back home.
What will the new protocol say with respect to the mandatory 14-day quarantine at a government-approved facility now in effect for all persons coming from the United States?
It is already known that Sandals La Source in Grenada is not on the approved list of quarantine places.
The Mitchell government is seemingly trying to hide from its responsibility and leaving it up to Sandals La Source to make the announcement in case something goes wrong when the airport starts accepting regular scheduled flights from American Airlines and JetBlue with passengers from the U.S hotspots.
Unfortunately, THE NEW TODAY believes that the government is not in charge and not calling the shots on tourism in Grenada.
This newspaper would also like to make some comments on the appointment of Peter David as the new Minister of Agriculture.
It should be noted that both Prime Minister Mitchell and Mr. David himself see this particular reshuffle as not a demotion but a positive for a critical sector that has not been getting the attention as it should over the years.
The first thing that seems odd given the task that lies ahead is the absence of a Minister of State for Agriculture when compared with the three other persons assigned to the Office of the Prime Minister to help him perform some of the duties.
There is a full Minister in the person of Pamela Moses with Special Responsibility for Needy Assistance and Uniform Allowance and Minister Kate Lewis who is to look after Youth Development.
The Prime Minister also has at his disposal a Minister of State, Senator Winston Garraway who is assigned to the portfolio of Disaster Preparedness.
The Ministry of Agriculture is not like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where the ability to talk is key in order to influence governments for assistance.
The individual holding the portfolio of Minister of Agriculture should come to the job with a work plan in place and expect to see positive results not immediately but over a 5 or 10 year period.
Minister David is not cut from the same cloth like some of our more successful agriculture ministers in the past especially the late George Brizan who was full of knowledge of the sector and knew what he was about and was loved by farmers.
Agriculture is more than a friendly smile and a grin with farmers and the minister has to demonstrate that he knows the industry and what it is all about.
In addition, Minister David is taking over a ministry with low staff morale especially among those Extension Officers who according to many farmers can best be described as persons falling into the category of missing in action.
The nation will be able to determine the future for Peter David in Agriculture and politics on Budget Day when the new Minister of Finance, Gregory Bowen gives an insight into the allocations for the various government ministries.