President of the Grenada Hotel & Tourism Association (GHTA), Jerry Rappaporte has attributed the noticeable decline in the island’s tourism sector in the past year to mainly external factors which the country has no control over.
Rappaporte was speaking to THE NEW TODAY newspaper on Tuesday following the release of statistics by the Grenada Tourism Authority on the performance of the industry in 2016 as compared to the previous year.
Grenada registered significant declines in the cruise ship business and yachting sector and only a slight increase in stay-over visitors.
The yachting sector showed the most dramatic decline of 16.35% with only 12,203 visitors compared to 14,588 in the previous season.
Cruise passenger arrivals dropped by 12.81% with only 276,203 visitors arriving compared to 316,778 during the previous season.
The only bright light for the industry came from the stayover sector which showed a paltry 341 arrivals more than the previous season, representing a growth of .47%.
According to Rappaporte the Brexit fallout in the United Kingdom resulting in the drop in the British Pound Sterling has resulted in less travellers from Britain coming into the island.
He said the earning power of the British visitor has been reduced by about 25% due to the drop in the value of the pound and not making it attractive to travel.
Rappaporte who runs the small La Sagesse Nature Center hotel with 12 rooms also pointed a finger at new U.S President, Donald Trump and his policies for the decline in tourism figures from the United States.
He said that Trump is advocating “an isolationist” view of the world with his slogan of making “America Great Again” and his view of terrorism is creating fear in Americans not wanting to travel abroad.
The GHTA boss also referred to the threat of mosquito-borne disease in the Caribbean especially within the past year as a factor that turned out to be negative for tourism in Grenada and the rest of the region.
Rappaporte is confident that things will eventually turnaround as the “Pure Grenada” brand for the Spice Isle is a wonderful tool for marketing the island.
He said the island would have to continue with its marketing efforts and to ensure that the crime rate remains down unlike other islands.
This, he said will be good for Grenada which is still known to be among the safest place for visitors in the Caribbean.
See the statistics released by GHTA on the performance of Grenada’s vital tourism industry in the last year: