That Security Officer at MBIA

My wife and I were on our visit to Grenada on 14 June when we received an invitation via email from His Excellency Mr Karl Hood High Commissioner in London for Grenada.

The invitation was to attend an event hosted by the High Commissioner to a Question and Answer cession evening with Mr Rudy Grant, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Grenada Tourism Authority.

The invitation reads as follows: “As Grenadians, Carriacouans and our  people of Petite Martinique. We all want the same thing … To see our country become more prosperous, tourism can help achieve this so join us for an evening of discussion on how you can become an ambassador for the island.”

Date: Friday 24 June, 2016. Time: 7.00 p.m. to 9.00 p.m. (drinks and snacks will be served). Address: The Chapel, Archel Road, LONDON W14 9QH. If readers would bear with me the reason for mentioning the content of the email would soon be clear.

We (my wife and I) were due back in England on Tuesday 21 June which gave me only two days to help campaigning in the UK in/out European Referendum followed by a meeting I had arranged while in Grenada for Friday 24. So, my reply to the invitation from His Excellency was to say sorry, we were in St George’s and will not be able to attend however; we would like his office to pass on our concerns to Mr Rudy Grant about the high cost of air travel to Grenada by scheduled airlines which we believe restricts UK residents from travelling to Grenada or having a holiday in Grenada and, could he, together with the Government of Grenada arrange to negotiate with a suitable company for the resumption of chartered flights to the island.

What my wife and I experienced at Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) six days later was quite staggering!

Booking in time was due to start at 2.00 p.m. on Monday 20 June but as usual we arrived early at approximately 1.50 p.m. Every thing went well and to our satisfaction and following booking in we sat down for about 10 minutes, drank some bottled water and discarded the rest before entering what we thought was Departure Passport Control, by-passing what appeared to be a newly installed kiosk slightly to our left.

With my wife leading and I following behind we entered the pair of flap doors as we have done so many times in the past  (a sense of habit one may say) only to be called back by the security officer sitting in the kiosk.

It was about 2.20 p.m. or there about that afternoon and on realising the officer was actually at Passport Control I said: “They keep changing things round which is confusing.” The security officer whose physical appearance can be described as that of Latin or Arabic description age between 26 to 34 years old and dressed in the uniform of a commonly known security firm operating in Grenada (heavy cream coloured shirt and dark brown trousers) said to us: “You can’t read?

But neither my wife nor I replied except to pass on our travelling documents but just as he started looking at them he said directly to me. “Were you born big?” I replied: “What do you think! You are being rude; I shall report you.” The security officer then said: “You accuse me of changing things.” My response was. “I did no such thing, I simply made a general comment, not personal, a general comment; but you have been personal and rude and I will report you. I will also write to the press about your intolerable behaviour.” Nothing more was said. We were handed back our documents and went through customs.

Grenada’s biggest problem in terms of hospitality is the wrecking crew – those people put in charge of some of the country’s front line services and having to deal directly with the general public. I find them to be woefully untrained, rude, arrogant, totally lacking self-discipline and with chips on their shoulders.

On the other hand the position of authority appears to go to their heads; they become pig-headed with the belief that they can speak to certain members of the public as they very well please, disregarding their main responsibility to be polite, respectful, and provide a duty of care and well-being.

Why do these people take on a job and turn up for work if they are unhappy with the job or the environment they have to work in – beats the hell out of me. If we were not Grenadians and had not invested our savings heavily in the country it is unlikely we would ever consider returning to the island.

A lot has been written about Mrs Wendy Francette-Williams, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Grenada Airport Authority in recent months (all good reports) and I have to say I do agree with a lot of what has been written from the changes I have seen.

The Maurice Bishop International Airport has improved considerable in the past 18 months; but as with the rest of the country there are bad oranges in every organisation that have to be thrown out or separated otherwise they will spoil the entire crop giving our country and our people a bad name.

Grenada’s two biggest industries are tourism and agriculture. Tourism brings in a lot of the foreign currency the country desperately needs to pay off debts and fund foreign purchases such as overseas goods and services.

The country’s hotel industry is expanding rapidly following government’s policy to develop the industry further as one of the means of creating new and sustained jobs in the tourism sector.

The Tourism Authority on the other hand has been desperately promoting Grenada’s Tourism Industry in North America and in Europe to try and get more North Americans and Europeans not only to visit Grenada but to spend their Holidays in our islands which is all well and good but it is no good having a tidy yard and a filthy house. We need to get our house in order by cleaning out the filth.

People in our front line services are expected and must be prepared to be respectful, polite and kind to every member of the general public but especially so to our visiting guests. Those who disrespect people must be disciplined and retrained before being allowed back within the public domain.

It is very easy to loose customers; it is not easy to get them back.

Grenadians must remember that people have choices. If you treat someone badly or provide them with inadequate or poor quality service they are unlikely to return. There are hundreds of other Caribbean Island from which North Americans and Europeans can choose from should they choose to have a Caribbean holiday.

My wife and I spent approximately four hours at the airport that day during which time I personally had the opportunity to have conversations with a number of other security officers and other airport staff; I found them peasant to talk to, very understanding, friendly and helpful. It is a great pity the officer at the kiosk could not match these qualities.

Winston Strachan

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