With high hopes of a return to a booming tourism sector, Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen has given assurance that although recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been slow, “we have been growing steadily” in recent months.
“Tourism is slow to recover but it is not dead,” the female member of Parliament for St. Mark told a post-Cabinet press briefing in St. George’s where she announced the arrival of new flights from the United States as of November 1 and the resumption of the Charlotte route later in the month on November 27.
According to the Tourism and Aviation Minister, American Airlines (AA), which currently provides air transport from Miami into Grenada every Wednesday and Saturday, has “added Friday to its schedule.”
In addition, she said that the Charlotte route by the same U.SD carrier is also expected to resume operations from November 27.
Pointing to statistics which show that in January Grenada welcomed 1609 persons embarking from Miami, a figure which had increased to 7000 in the month of August, the tourism minister noted that this is something that “we want to see that continue because there are significant jobs that have been lost through this fallout with the COVID.”
Over 14,000 Grenadians reportedly lost jobs as a direct result of the pandemic, with the closure of sector-related businesses due to low visitor arrivals and the rapid spread of the virus.
As the government takes steps to revive the sector, Minister Moderate-Curwen, who also announced the possibility for the arrival of cruise lines in the not too distant future said, “We (the government) are very cautious, with what we do but as other leaders have recognised, we have to learn to live with the new normal,” and emphasised that vaccination will be a determining factor in going forward.
“A number of the cruise lines have sent their schedules where they have included Grenada and they are asking us what our decisions are,” she told reporters.
“…A few months ago it was too early for us, we didn’t have the level of vaccination in our country…but we are having talks on it (and) we have to put some more logistics in place for protection, and we have to establish some kind of corridor, or bubble (because) we cannot just let people go all over (the country),” she said.
According to the senior government minister, while “we are making progress,” a decision has not been finalized on the issue of cruise tourism.
“We hope that within the next month we would be in a comfortable area where we can say (that) cruise can resume but we recognise that several people would continue to be displaced from their jobs if we do not get into the industry.
“We would not be reckless but we will look at all the logistics with the Ministry of Health, and we hope that gradually we would see that increase in the tourism industry, whether its stay-over passengers or cruise and we are working as a team with all of the partners in the industry to make it happen and to make it happen safely.
Minister Modeste-Curwen also used the opportunity to commend the Grenada Hotel and Tourism (GHTA) for being a “champion in taking initiatives like getting fully vaccinated staff (and) implementing protocols”.
“…I trust that they would self-regulate (or) peer-regulate a little bit more but so far the majority have been extremely compliant..,” she said.
Minister Modeste-Curwen noted that “the GHTA took their initiatives and said to their staff that if you want to continue to work then it’s a prerequisite, bearing in mind that we say to visitors who are non-Grenadians that to come to Grenada you must be vaccinated.
She said the visitors are also saying to Grenada “if you are requesting that we are fully vaccinated to travel to your country what are the requirements for the workers, the people who are going to serve us…and so, the persons in the tourism sector by and large and especially the large hotels, you would find that they are close to 100% fully vaccinated.”
Tourism has emerged over the years as the sector that provides most of the employment opportunities for locals.