by Curlan Campbell
- 3 cruise ships last week
- Currently excluded from cruise ship tour bubble
- Vendors have never received direct tours from cruise ships
- Earl Maitland appointed to speak on vendors’ behalf
Some vendors occupying booths at the Grand Anse Craft and Spice Market said they are not perturbed after their exclusion from being a part of the cruise ship tour bubble. A bubble tour is a pre-booked guided tour designed for cruise ship passengers to ensure their safety while onshore, as part of Covid-19 health protocols.
Cruise ship passengers who arrived onboard the first cruise ship for the 2021/2022 season on Tuesday, 9 November 2021 were not allowed to visit Grand Anse beach nor the Craft and Spice Market in keeping with the Covid-19 health protocols. The same happened on Friday, 12 November when Grenada welcomed both the MV Britannia and Seabourn Odyssey to its shores.
On Monday, 8 November Minister of Tourism Dr Clarice Modeste-Curwen in response to questions during a press conference indicated that it is imperative that all vendors at the market become inoculated in order to be included as part of the cruise ship bubble tours.
Nikoyan Roberts, Nautical Development Manager at the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA), gave the rationale behind the adoption of bubble tours. “The bubble tours are structured, so that there is an added layer of risk mitigation so that the fully vaccinated passengers will only interact with fully vaccinated service providers at their destination. The tours that have been pre-booked and purchased are with the attractions that have received their Pure, Safe Travel approved fully vaccinated status from the Ministry of Health and the Grenada Tourism Authority.”
In response to their exclusion, some vendors claimed that while the narrative presented by the Tourism Minister and GTA officials regarding their exclusion is far from the truth, they are not at all surprised, since, from the beginning of setting up shop inside the market, they have never received any direct tours from cruise ships.
Jacqueline Lucas a vendor at the market for the last 20 years said they have seen tourists being dropped off near the market to access the beach, but never given a guided tour of the market. “We have never had a tour coming from the ship, so that doesn’t put us out. When the tourists go to the beach and when they come to use the washroom and they get in the back here, then they will realise that we are here.” Lucas said most craft vendors rely on the patronage of loyal tourists returning to visit them at the market each year. “We come here by faith and by the faith in God we survive through good friends, and people that we met years ago will return just to look for us, so this is what we depend on.”
Frank Belfon a craft vendor for 50 years said prior meetings with tourism officials ended prematurely without any resolution to the matter as both parties are yet to reach a consensus regarding whether all the vendors will become fully vaccinated, since at present several unvaccinated market vendors are standing their ground on the matter.
Minister Modeste-Curwen admitted that they were unable to interface with all of our stakeholders due to not having sufficient time before the first cruise ship call. She promised to do so in the coming days ahead to come to a resolution. “We will be engaging them (vendors) and we will be facilitating them in whatever way necessary so that they can fit into the protocols whether they need some assistance in getting vaccinated… for those who are not vaccinated we are going to work with them to get them vaccinated.”
GTA chairman Barry Collymore made a case that the unvaccinated continue to hinder the recovery of the tourism sector. “The only reason why the hotel sector is not growing as fast as we would like it, the feedback that we are getting is that some of the measures that we have to implement to protect the unvaccinated population are impacting the hotel sector. We have to take the measures because we have to keep people safe, but we realise that the economic recovery will not be complete without a certain level of vaccination.”
The vendors appointed Earl Maitland to speak on their behalf as they continue to protest what they term as infringement of their constitutional rights by being mandated to take the vaccine by authorities.