Grenada’s Prime Minister Voices Continued Optimism For Future Of Tourism Sector Despite Current Challenges Caused By COVID-19

PR – Grenada’s Prime Minister, Dr. the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, is  confident about the future of regional tourism despite current challenges facing the  industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Dr. Mitchell, a featured speaker in a regional high-level discussion on Tuesday,  acknowledged that the continued spike in COVID-19 cases in some countries, the  emergence of new, more aggressive variants and closure of borders create a sense of  uncertainty about the future of tourism. 

However, he said, “Notwithstanding the challenges, we continue to be optimistic that the  tourism industry will rebound and recover. Our expectations in that regard must be  tempered by an unwavering commitment to give priority consideration to the safety of our  people. Placing safety at the pinnacle of our efforts to restart tourism will serve as an  attraction in and of itself.” 

Dr. Mitchell further stated that, “A country that demonstrates good COVID-19  management protocols, along with easy and efficient entry protocols will no doubt be  included on the list of preferred destinations. In fact, Grenada has already been identified  on a list of six countries that potential travellers should have on their radar to visit, once  they have been vaccinated.” 

The Grenadian leader is disappointed that no Caribbean country was included on the UK  Green List, which identifies countries from where travellers will not be required to  quarantine when entering the UK. 

According to the Prime Minister, this calls for immediate action. He said, “This drives home the urgency for Grenada and other Caribbean countries to come together to lobby  the UK for green light status, based on our relatively low case numbers and astute  management of the pandemic. This will create a tremendous opportunity to increase the  Caribbean’s global market share as many popular destinations in places such Italy,  China, Spain, South Africa will be closed out.”

Reiterating his optimism about the future, Dr. Mitchell said, it’s an opportune time for  Grenada and its Caribbean neighbours to focus more on intra-regional travel. Noting that  considerable resources are invested in attracting visitors from around the world, Dr.  Mitchell said countries must now look into tapping the regional market. 

Elaborating on how to achieve this, Dr. Mitchell said, “One such initiative would be  reducing the travel tax and making the cost of airline tickets more affordable. However,  this must be a collaborative effort among the islands. If only one or two countries reduce  the tax, it will not have the desired effect and what would essentially happen, is that those  countries would lose revenue, while others continue to earn the same from the travel tax.  We must work together on this.” 

The Prime Minister believes this will also impact positively on the small, locally owned  hotels, which are in many cases, the preferred option for regional travellers. 

Another recommendation from the Grenadian leader was the need to place greater  emphasis on heritage tourism. He said, “The Caribbean has a rich heritage and there is  significant potential for that history and culture to become a more visible part of the  attraction of various destinations. Therefore, greater emphasis should be placed on  developing and promoting these sites.” 

Dominica’s Prime Minister, Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit was also a panelist on  Tuesday’s high-level regional dialogue and he too, cited the need for collective action,  such as joint marketing to help generate greater benefits from the tourism sector.  

Prime Minister Skerrit also called for the region to develop a harmonised system that  provides clear and standardised information to travellers. 

Like his Grenadian counterpart, he noted that while challenges exist, the pandemic has  also created an opportunity to reshape and rethink the approach to tourism. 

Tuesday’s discussion on the future of tourism was organised by the United Nations  Development Programme. It was the first of five Regional Policy Dialogues aimed at  discussing the new trends in the tourism sector and the role of MSMEs within the sector.