PR – Fellow Grenadians, it is my pleasure to address you on the opening of Tourism Awareness Month 2020. The theme this year, ‘Tourism; Connects Us All” concisely highlights just how all our lives are touched in some measure by the Tourism industry and indeed the COVID-19 pandemic has made this even more clear.
When we think about the Tourism industry, we first think about livelihoods and job creation. Statistics show that approximately 10,400 people benefitted directly and indirectly in the industry pre COVID. This reach is much more significant when one considers the families dependant on Tourism workers for their collective livelihood. There is the potential for just one Tourism worker to impact the wellbeing of 2-3 other lives. During the pandemic, the Tourism industry has been hard hit and this was acutely felt by a number of families, therefore, Government knew it had to move swiftly to ensure that the industry was rescued.
Another dimension highlighting the way ‘Tourism connects us all’ is the direct and indirect revenue the industry generates, contributing almost a quarter of our Gross Domestic Product. Data up to September 2020 shows that Grenada experienced a 42.7% decline in overall visitor arrivals contributing to a decline in expenditure for stayover arrivals alone by 75% or just over 300 million dollars. This is revenue needed to sustain Grenada’s development through education, transportation, health and other services the nation depends on.
Thirdly, Tourism has deep connections to other critical sectors such as Agriculture, energy, fisheries, entertainment and craft. The synergy between Agriculture and Tourism means that local farmers can increase their production of fresh produce to supply the Food and Beverage and Accommodation sectors. In the midst of the pandemic, some farmers, fishermen and vendors reported sustaining significant losses when hotels were closed. In the future, I would like to see the bonds between these two sectors deepen as we seek to provide healthy, fresh foods to our residents and visitors.
Finally, Tourism connects us all because we are proud citizens of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Tourism is you, Tourism is me; it is all of us. If we are not innovative and cannot provide memorable experiences, if we do not care for our environment for generations to come, if we are not custodians of our culture, if we are not friendly and courteous people, if we do not produce healthy fresh foods, then our Tourism industry, our gains cannot be sustained. Whatever you do in life, you have a role to play.
Today, we are happy to see signs of recovery with hotels open again and major flights returning from the USA, Canada, the UK and the region and for that we must be grateful. Slowly but surely we are getting back on our feet, but it will take a continued collective effort to ensure we build back stronger. Tourism connects us all in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.