by Linda Straker
- 2020: 60,513 airport arrivals, 65,823 departures
- Most arrival passengers were returning nationals
- Tourist arrivals to region in 2020 declined by 65.5%
Arlene Friday, Chief Executive Officer of Grenada Hotel & Tourism Association (GHTA), said that the decision by the management of some properties to become “quarantine or safe hotels” when Grenada reopened for commercial passengers in July 2020, contributed to the survival of these properties.
Records from the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) show that for the year 2020, there were 60,513 arrivals and 65,823 departures at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA). “Most of the arrival passengers were returning nationals who had to be quarantined before mingling with the citizens,” said Friday.
“When the island reopened and quarantine was made mandatory for a certain number of days, the management at some properties opted to be quarantine safe, and though the decision did not replace what was lost from the pandemic impact, as a quarantine facility these properties survived,” she said. “There were a small number of tourists among the arriving passengers, but it was not anything of great significance.”
A few hotels said that before Covid-19 devastated the tourism and travel sector, 2020 was projected to be another record-breaking year. Grenada recorded an increase in visitors during the first 6 months of 2019 when compared to 2018. Total visitor arrivals in 2018 were 528,077 in 2018. The first half of 2019 welcomed 318,559 visitors between January to June 2019, compared to 314,916 for the same period in 2018.
The spiral of cancellations began after Covid-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO). By March 2020 most Caricom destinations of which Grenada belongs went into lockdown as a means of containing and controlling the transmission of the virus. Grenada’s first case was a returning national from the United Kingdom announced on 22 March 2021.
A recent release from the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) said that across the Caribbean, the impact of Covid-19 on the travel and tourism industry has been very apparent. The impact was particularly evident from April to about mid-June when there was literally no activity in some of our destinations. This was characterised by empty hotels and restaurants, deserted attractions, shut borders, laid-off workers, grounded airlines and crippled cruise lines. While we saw some fluctuations in “the levels of visitors for the remaining months of 2020, the influx of visitors has not reached levels even closely comparable to those being experienced prior to March 2020. In fact, some destinations remain closed to visitors, with limited airlift primarily for repatriation of locals and cargo,” said the release.
Data received from CTO member countries reveal that tourist arrivals to the region in 2020 fell to just over 11 million, a decline of 65.5% when compared to the record 32 million tourist visits in 2019.
With this lower rate of decline in the region, the CTO said it can be attributed to two key factors: a significant portion of the Caribbean’s winter season (January to mid-March 2020) saw average levels of tourist arrivals when compared to 2019, and the fact that the main (summer) season in other regions coincided with the period where there was normally limited international travel.
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