Statement By Minister For Tourism And Civil Aviation

PR – Yesterday morning I woke up with a sense of gratitude to God that our Grenadian sons and daughters on cruise ships would begin arriving today. 

With the halt of Cruise sailing due to the COVID-19, The Ministry of Tourism was approached by three Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Cruise lines, Disney and MSC, to discuss arrangements for the repatriation of Grenadian crew. Dates of arrival were set for the 21st and 25th May. 

Government gave its commitment to bring everyone back, without counting the cost. 

We began a search for accommodation from the private sector, and to establish a protocol for the management of the process, bearing in mind that there are health implications. The protocol included mandatory quarantine, medical checks and testing, and three meals per day. As both quarantine and testing had a cost, we agreed that the Cruise lines would contribute $100 per day towards the quarantine. 

We enquired from other countries who said they were using a combination of hotels and schools to accommodate their returnees. 

Recently we heard from the media and other sources that there were two cruise ships in the Caribbean waters and that they were due to arrive in Grenada on the 9th and 10th of May. 

Official contact was made with us on short notice and approval was given in spite of the late notice. The established protocol was communicated and agreed to. Hours before the arrival of the first ship, we were informed that they would not pay the contribution to the quarantine. 

In the interest of our citizens, we said bring them home, regardless. No money has been paid to the Ministry of Tourism on behalf of any cruise ship worker. 

The SGU campus has been used in recent times by paying students. 

The facility had been inspected, cleaned and sanitized by a professional firm shortly after we were contacted by the three cruise lines mentioned before. We obtained washing machines, dryer, and two refrigerators, through the kind courtesy of the private sector, cleaning supplies were put in place. 

However, dust does gather quickly and in the hasty preparations for the unscheduled ships a final inspection was not done. 

We apologise for this oversight. It is never our intention to show any disregard to anyone, especially our citizens 

The shortcomings will be rectified in the shortest possible time. This started last night with the provision of meals and other urgent needs. 

I thank the High ranking officials of the Ministry of Health, Tourism, Customs, Immigration, Police and all those who came to welcome and provide services to our Grenadian citizens. These people took the time off, to come on a shutdown day to ensure the safety of the crew, and of the Nation. 

I am happy for the Mothers who now know where their children are, and those who are looking forward to see others arrive on cruise ships in the following days. This caring Government stands ready to bring our sons and daughters home. 

Happy Mother’s day to all Mothers.