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GTA Chairman reports successful vaccination of hospitality workers

Barry Collymore - Chairman of the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA)

The Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) is expected to begin issuing ‘Grenada Safe Vaccination’ stamps of approval as early as next week to tourism properties, and attractions, where all employees are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

This was disclosed by Chairman of GTA, Barbadian-born, Barry Collymore, in an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY on Wednesday following the implementation of a new government policy to force reluctant frontline workers in the hospitality industry to take the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment.

“We have been getting reports from hotels, and tourism partners that they have actually had a very high vaccination rate…they have been reporting remarkable progress in terms of getting workers’ willingness to be vaccinated… there are quite a few that have been vaccinated,” he said.

“…I am not sure that there is still that heavy reluctance. I think people are beginning to understand and get the message that the vaccine is safe, and (that) it is for their own protection…,” he added.

According to the GTA Chairman, the new stamp for fully vaccinated tourism accommodations, and attractions should be rolled out by next week.

“We will be issuing the first stamps for the fully vaccinated properties,” said Collymore who is also a Director and Partner of West Indies Management Company, which is involved in hotel and tourism development in Grenada.

Collymore indicated that a few properties have already qualified for the status, adding that, “I also believe that the vaccination efforts within the tourism, and leisure sector has been going well.”

“…We still have some way to go, but I think that the tourism workers have stepped up, and have gotten vaccinated,” he said.

The ‘Grenada Safe Vaccination’ stamp replaces the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) ‘Pure, Safe Travel’ stamp, the world’s first-ever, global safety, and hygiene stamp for travel, and tourism, designed to address COVID-19, and similar outbreaks.

However, as preparations are being made in Grenada to reopen the local tourism sector, the United Kingdom, which is considered a main source market has rated Grenada ‘amber’ on its ‘traffic light entry system,’ with the overall low vaccination levels of the population of 111, 000 being a major contributing factor.

So far, just under 15, 000 first doses, and less than 7000 second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered in Grenada from a batch of 50, 000 vaccines that is scheduled to expire on June 27.

Reports are that Grenada’s UK ‘amber’ listing has already affected the arrival of flights, with British Airways cancelling its May 26 return to the island, pushing back its arrival schedule to June 17.

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Collymore told a recent press conference in St. George’s that with large destinations such as Europe, and East Asia in disarray due to the pandemic, the opportunity exists for Grenada to take-off in the international tourism market, and to help revive the tourism sector.

When asked his view on how Grenada’s ‘amber’ listing will affect the GTA’s efforts to rebuild the sector, he said that while being on the “amber list is not the end of the world (and being on) the green list is better”, there is a “very serious effort now to get Grenada on the green list,” which is expected to be reviewed in the middle of June.

“We have been doing a lot of work in terms of trying to get on the green list,” he said, explaining that “the list is a living document and it’s constantly being revised”.

“…It is an effort of the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Tourism, where we have written to the British government – we are in dialogue with the British government, and our aim is to get on the Green list.

“It is absolutely vital (and) we believe that our management of COVID, the low infection rate, the fact that we have not had any community spread, along with our ability to test variants, and our testing strategy, (and) the very strong protocols that we have in place warrants that we should be on the ‘Green’ list.

The GTA Chairman, who once served as Press Secretary to Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, and is a Director of the Savvy Grenada group, the company which is associated with the island’s largest marina development at Port Louis and Mt. Cinnamon hotel, expressed the view that investors are “very confident of Grenada because of how well we have managed the COVID situation thus far”.

“Grenada is definitely listed as one of the safest countries in the world. We haven’t had any community spread yet, we haven’t had any massive outbreaks, we have been able to control the borders pretty tightly, and there has been severe consequences for persons who breach protocols,” he said.

“… I think that investors see Grenada as a safe destination with sensible protocols, (and) people who are fully vaccinated are rewarded with increased freedom as we should be because they are not the ones who are going to spread COVID. So, I think that Grenada’s story, in terms of investor confidence is a success story,” he added.