Senior officials of the Grenada Tourism Authority attended the Seatrade Cruise Global conference in Miami, Florida where regional tourism leaders were invited to discuss mutually beneficial growth and sustainability strategies for the continued development of the cruise industry.
Grenada seeks to reshape the narrative around the cruise ship sector so more Grenadian nationals can derive greater benefits and deliver enhanced value to visitors.
Speaking during the global conference, Petra Roach, Chief Executive Officer of the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) stated, “Grenada is committed to ensuring that our relationships with the cruise lines are win-win partnerships. We must leverage the strength of our resources, especially our people, to create opportunities for economic growth and empowerment for current and future generations.”
Those plans include developing an entrepreneurial programme through a new initiative called “Pitch to Success” which aims to convert tourism-related ideas into commercial realities.
Emerging from the pandemic, talks with the cruise sector were mutually productive and targeted with a focus on health, safety, sourcing of Caribbean products and increasing onboard employment opportunities for Grenadians.
CEO Roach explained, “Our discussions focused on extending the length of time that the ships stay in port and making our specialty items, like chocolate, honey and rums, available for purchase aboard the vessels,” she noted that Minister for Tourism Dr Clarice Modeste-Curwen has been working assiduously since 2018 to secure job opportunities for Grenadians on board the ships where they can hone their skills, receive training and gain valuable experience. “All of these efforts are now coming to fruition,” reported Roach.
Grenada’s vision resonated with Captain Hernan Zini, Vice President Worldwide of Port Operations of Royal Caribbean Group, who noted that many Royal Caribbean employees like to have experiences at sea, but they don’t necessarily want the experience to last a lifetime. “Many people in the hospitality business like to come and do experiences for 5 to 7 years. They come on board, they learn, they grow, they work for a company that has great training,” he said, adding that this gives them a competitive advantage when they return ashore as potential tourism employees or entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses.
Roach attended the meetings with Nikoyan Roberts, GTA’s Nautical Development Manager, who underscored the importance of sharing the Grenadian lifestyle and experience with visitors. Roberts opined that, “Involving cruise visitors in developmental activities like Grenada’s Voluntourism Programme will change the current cruise narrative and reposition for improvements in our travel and tourism value chain and in our tourism businesses. Everything a visitor engages with ought to leave a positive and lasting impression for a lifetime.”
Carnival Corporation’s Marie McKenzie, Vice President, Global Ports and Caribbean Government Relations, thanked Grenada for its support in bringing the industry and Carnival back to sailing. “It just continues to be a destination that our guests enjoy so I wanted to express that to the team today and say thank you to the people of Grenada.”