The island’s most decorated hotelier, Sir Royston Hopkin who is Managing Director of Spice Island Beach Resort has called on government to make it a priority to search for funds to offer Tourism and Hospitality as a degree at St. George’s University (SGU).
Sir Royston who was delivering the feature address at T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) graduation ceremony at the National Stadium last week is of the belief that the Hospitality Department is the direction Grenada should move towards since it depends heavily on Tourism.
He called for the introduction of a Hospitality Degree Programme by the year 2020 with St. George’s University and a Culinary Programme to be instituted by 2022.
He suggested that Grenada needs to approach funding agencies to get grants to allow SGU to do the programmes since the university already has the framework to do the degrees.
He said government should undertake the venture as “a priority” and do not see it as an expense for Grenada since “investment in the education in our youths is the future of our country…”.
“Just like how we go up and get monies, grants from CDB and World Bank for a lot of other projects in Grenada, we have to … go to the lending agencies and the foundations and raise the money…”, he said.
“…We have to look at it as an investment to the future because Grenada unlike a lot of other countries, Tourism is the engine that will propel us forward coupled (with) Manufacturing, Agriculture etc…”, he added.
Sir Royston stressed that the island should be in a state of readiness to meet the demands from the number of room stock currently under construction in Grenada.
“We have five hundred hotel rooms under construction in this country which will be ready in about four years. We also have four or five hundred under construction of apartments – that is now tourism.
“…Today, those of you who go down to True Blue, you see apartment blocks with 50, 60, 70 units being built.
“…Those thousands of rooms which I am talking about which you folks are looking for employment, you can’t get any because you don’t have the capacity.
Hopkin believes that if something is not done, the job to manage those hotels and apartments will go to foreigners as Grenadians do not have the requirements.
“Who is going to manage those things? Let me tell you, nobody (in Grenada), they’d have to bring in everybody (from outside)”, he remarked.
“…You need to get the local people on board with the capacity to run (the businesses),” he said.
According to Sir Royston, a lot of heavy emphasis should be placed on developing locals in the area of Hospitality, if government wants to deal with the problem of unemployment in the country.
“I am challenging the Government of Grenada, the Private Sector, the Hotel Association, TAMCC to sit like yesterday in a symposium to discuss the way forward (for) us Grenadians…”.
“I don’t want to be the only person every year (making the call and persons only saying that) …this is Sir Royston of Spice. I am tired of hearing it, I want to see other role models coming through.
“This is an indictment on us as Grenadians to be spouting one or two successful hoteliers (when) the government of Grenada and the whole …. country is (saying) that we want investors…”.
In recent years, tourism has emerged as the leading sector for job creation and foreign exchange earnings for the island.