Tourism Day 2020 Address by Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation Hon. Dr Clarice Modeste-Curwen. Theme: Tourism and Rural Development, 27 September 2020.
Fellow Grenadians, as I address you on this occasion of World Tourism Day, we must recognise that we are at a critical juncture in our tourism industry and its future.
In 2020, we began the year with renewed vigour and hope for continued growth after 2 consecutive years of surpassing 500,000 total visitors to the destination. Without warning the coronavirus pandemic disrupted world economies with tourism being among the hardest hit sectors.
Border closures and new travel restrictions saw an unprecedented decline in local, regional and international tourism numbers which snowballed into significant job losses and economic fallout. Over 4,000 Individuals and their families have been negatively impacted, thus requiring swift action by the government to stabilise the economy. This pandemic has taught us many lessons; however, the most striking lesson is that unity and a collective approach is what we need to confront the new reality. Such an approach was used in our development of the new way of doing business in the tourism industry.
The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) and the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Authority (GHTA) all joined efforts to create the roadmap for recovery in the industry, bringing stakeholders along every step of the way. It began with the development of reopening protocols for the industry subsectors including accommodation, food and beverage, transportation, attractions, watersports and other tourism services. Stakeholders were consulted on these protocols before the documents were finalised.
The next step was Health and Safety Training; another joint effort between the Ministry of Health and the GTA. As a result of weeks of Zoom and in person sessions, over 2,000 stakeholders were trained and certified. Following the training, inspections and certification began for the accommodation sector and Tourism Services sector with successful organisations receiving our ‘Pure Safe Travel’ Stamp of Approval.
My ministry has also been continuously working with the Ministry of Health to develop the entry requirements and re-evaluate these requirements knowing the importance of lives and livelihoods to the people of Grenada.
So much has been accomplished and slowly but surely, we are recovering. We are happy to see our airline partners returning to our shores. Caribbean Airlines, interCaribbean and One Caribbean are flying steadily from the Barbados hub. Air Canada is carded to resume flights in October together with JetBlue and American Airlines. Additionally, from the UK, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways are expected to resume flights in October.
While the demand for travel is slowly rebuilding, we have not forgotten the mandate to market the destination. Hence, the Grenada Tourism Authority recently launched 2 significant campaigns. Paradise at Home encourages you, our citizens to explore and enjoy Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, while supporting local tourism providers. I am very happy to see residents posting their photos and videos on social media about their adventures, and we are glad that income is being generated in the local market. The other campaign, Pure Grenada Just For You, encourages travellers to visit the destination and tailor their vacation while having peace of mind that their health and safety are protected.
We are open for business and we continue to work with the Ministry of Health to ensure that our requirements protect our citizens but still attract visitors. We have all done well as a people and our efforts have paid off with Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique being recognised as a Safe Travels Destination by the World Travel and Tourism Council.
On an even brighter note, we look forward with optimism to the day when cruise ships, a major part of our industry, return to our shores and take advantage of what the Southern Caribbean has to offer. Government has a number of proposals before it from specialised cruise brands.
While we appreciate the number of people who depend on this form of tourism for their livelihoods, I must caution that it will take time for this sector to resume and that we are starting with small, ultra-luxury cruises in the first instance.
On this World Tourism Day, the Covid-19 pandemic represents an opportunity to rethink the future of the tourism sector, including how it contributes to our sustainable development goals, through its social, cultural, political, and economic value. The theme this year is Tourism and Rural Development.
We must explore how tourism can provide opportunities for social transformation in the rural areas while protecting our natural and cultural heritage. The sector must regain its role as an economic pillar providing jobs and opportunity for all, especially women and youth. Our communities are replete with natural and cultural assets that we can maximise.
Community Tourism has the potential to develop these assets, and now more than ever, visitors are looking for unique experiences they cannot find in their own countries. Our collective energies will be needed to drive the untapped opportunities in this very important sector. As we continue to explore the future of tourism and make adjustments on the road to recovery, we need to work together to protect the foundation we have built in this important industry. Tourism can be the catalyst for us to move beyond the pandemic, by harnessing the demand for the agricultural, manufacturing and financial services sectors in the country and bringing people together to pool their entrepreneurial ideas for advancement.
Now more than ever, in our nation, we need that spirit of co-operation and extraordinary, transformational thinking to help us rise over this setback and soar to new heights.
I ask each and every one of you to join me in this quest. May God bless this beautiful nation of ours. I thank you.