The Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) will be working very closely this year with various travel partners to restore the visitor growth the country formerly experienced prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
CEO of the authority, Barbadian Petra Roach, made the announcement last week Friday, during a Media Brunch hosted by the GTA, which was also shared virtually.
Roach, who most recently served as Global Head of Markets and Interim CEO of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), bade farewell to that tourism entity earlier this year to take up a new opportunity with the GTA, to lead Grenada through its pandemic recovery process with an emphasis on innovative and competitive marketing campaigns.
“We really want to make a change in the way that tourism is perceived and the role that it plays in the tri-island state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. We want tourism to be recognised not just as an economic driver, but certainly as a way that we can develop our people, who continue to be the main reason that people come back here time and time again,” she said.
“Obviously, we have gone through a catastrophic situation with this pandemic, which doesn’t seem to be stopping. There is always something else that is being thrown up in our path and therefore we have sat back and looked and really thought, what is the best strategic and targeted approach that we can adopt. So we have invested a lot of time working with the airline partners, because ultimately people have to get here on a plane,” she added.
Roach went on: “I am very happy to say that we have got some really exciting developments in the works, but due to the commercial sensitivity of them, I can’t share them at the moment, but suffice it to say from mid-July, we’ll have the full complement of our UK seats back on stream and by December 1st, we will have our full complement from the USA.
“Canada and Germany will come back on from November and the Caribbean continues to be for us a work in progress,” she said.
The GTA CEO spoke about a change in the Authority’s approach with tour operators.
She said: “Traditionally, distribution channels have been around the mainstream tour operator partners and what we’ve done is a deep dive and we are expanding our distribution network and footprint now to include smaller, more boutique, more specialist operators.”
Roach also explained that beyond Grenada’s recognised attractions of sun and sand, the GTA will seek to further establish the added value component to a Grenada holiday, which includes the island’s natural assets, because they offer a competitive advantage.
She acknowledged that Grenada is operating on a smaller scale with fewer resources, compared with larger Caribbean destinations.
“We have 95 hotels, 2,400 rooms and 112,000 people in our population. We haven’t got the opportunity to make mistakes,” she stressed, noting that linkages with various other sectors in Grenada will be key.
On the plus side, Roach pointed out that Grenada is well-positioned to satisfy the thirst amongst leisure vacationers, who want to get out and about after enduring pandemic driven restrictions and lockdowns.
“People have been fed up with staying at home. There’s this thing people are calling now ‘revenge travel’. People want to get out and breathe and see something new. And we have a plethora of offerings, those wide-open spaces, for that type of traveller,” she said.
Roach introduced a new sales and marketing team which she will lead to chart a new path forward for Grenada.
She noted that the GTA is expanding its distribution network and forging new partnerships with local tourism suppliers and producers, as well as airline partners, in a bid to rebuild tourism activity following the COVID-19 outbreak.
GTA Chairman, Barry Collymore, another Barbadian, has placed on record the authority’s full support for Roach, and described her appointment as a win for Grenada.
According to Collymore, local tourism officials saw the urgent need to have someone with not only the understanding of the Caribbean marketplace, but also with the skill set to help lead the destination through recovery given the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think we probably have the best tourism team in the Caribbean and probably one of the best teams in the world. So I am very, very proud of that. Leading that team of course is the (Tourism) Minister, but the persons who will be assuming the day to day leadership role of that team as we had previously announced is Ms. Petra Roach, and I am very happy that Petra has come on board with us”.
“I don’t think that we could have gotten a better Chief Executive Officer and I am very happy about that. I am also happy that we have assembled a team of local and international marketing professionals, as Petra will speak about, who will chart the way forward for Grenada in the coming months and years. I am very proud of it,” Collymore stressed.
“I think Grenada is tremendously poised now for take-off and I think it is in very good hands. I think it is good that we are having this engagement now and that Petra gets to meet with the press and I want her to introduce her team. So that Petra, on behalf of the board, I want to wish you and your team all the best. We are here to support you. We are here to provide support and anything that you bring to us that we think is meaningful, that you recommend and that certainly we can afford, we will support it,” Collymore announced, as Roach sat at the head table with him and Grenada’s Tourism Minister Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen.
“We are and were in a crisis situation,” said Barry Collymore, GTA’s chairman.
“We are still in a serious situation. But I think we now have a team assembled that can take us forward.”
Long marketed as the “Spice Island,” Collymore said Grenada farmers supply the island’s luxury and boutique resorts with daily produce. The country’s agricultural segment relies heavily on tourism, he said.
“When you come here you are supporting a lot more than hotels,” he said. “You’re supporting the agriculture industry, you’re supporting the entertainment and cultural industries and you are also supporting local tour operators.”
Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen stated, “We must get tourism going again. This industry is critical to our economy and job creation for so many people in our tri-islands.”
The Tourism Minister revealed that the GTA is also seeking to re-establish what had been a growing Grenada cruise segment.
As such, the island will resume hosting cruise ships on July 23, when luxury vessel Seabourn Odyssey visits Grenada as part of a seven-day Seabourn Cruise Line voyage, with a departing roundtrip from Barbados.
However, a key requirement for travel set in place by officials at Grenada’s Ministry of Health, will be that all passengers and crew on the voyages have to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
“We must get tourism going again,” said Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen, Grenada’s tourism minister. “This industry is critical to our economy and job creation for so many people in our tri-islands.”
Modeste-Curwen said that finalised protocols for cruise ship passengers visiting Grenada remain in development with “one or two protocols” still to be established.