Amidst an uptick in tourist arrivals last year, Grenada is anticipating an increase of about 365% in visitor arrivals in 2022, with promising projections for the industry to return to pre COVID-19 levels by December 2023.
The projection was announced last week Tuesday by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) Petra Roach, who provided an update on the performance of the industry as it recovers amidst the pandemic, weeks after revision of the COVID-19 entry protocols removing the testing requirement upon arrival at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA), and the quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated travellers.
Over 42, 000 stay-over visitors were recorded from January to December last year, along with over 4, 000 yacht visitors, and 175, 000 cruise passengers, 25, 000 of them visiting during November and December.
Tourism officials are expecting an increase of 226% in the yachting industry, while the cruise industry, which CEO Roach notes has seen “exponential growth because of the bubble tours that we’ve implemented.”
The Barbadian-born GTA CEO also announced the start of a new airline service from Boston in November and resumption of flights from Canada later on in the year.
She also outlined plans for marketing campaigns geared to boost visitor arrivals this year, with the unique proposition of “one destination but three islands to explore.”
This, she stated, “is going to be a big thrust for us with the summer campaign, where we are looking to offer families the opportunity to get discounted travel to Carriacou or Petite Martinique (from) discount Osprey tickets.”
The CEO disclosed that GTA is also “looking to run some local summer camps,” with the “local professional football association, and the professional cricket association” in an attempt to “continue redefine, what our product looks like on the ground.
Roach stressed that the priorities for the brand “continues to be centered around sustainability, conservation, travel with a purpose” with health and wellness, romance, culinary, soft adventure and nautical identified among the “niches where we see the biggest growth potential.”
As British Airways and Virgin Airlines continue with their twice-weekly service, Roach spoke of challenges in terms of accessing direct flights to the island.
“The challenge that we have at the minute is that we still have to fly over other destinations”, she said and pointed to Antigua, and Barbados. Roach also referred to Grenada’s “aggressive” tourism forecast for 2022 at a Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) press conference following the post-Cabinet media brief.
According to the statistics provided, the United States is currently the dominant market with approximately 64% of the overall business, followed by the United Kingdom with 16%, while Canada and the Caribbean each contribute 7%.
“If we look at where we are going for 2022, it is when we get to December next year that we expect that the numbers will be very similar to what they were before. And also, subject to us getting some additional lift out of the US, we would expect to also see October /November growing significantly over where 2019 numbers were,” Roach said optimistically.
Growth of “23%” is expected in 2023 over 2022, and with “up to 4% in 2024 over 2023,” a realization that Roach, however, explained will be “predicated on some conversations that we are having currently in terms of additional lifts to the island.”
The tri-island destination has a current stock of 2, 500 rooms, 2293 on mainland Grenada, 214 in Carriacou, and 17 in Petite Martinique.