I read with great interest the article published in the various weekend newspapers supposed to be written by and published on behalf of Tourism Minister Alexandra Otway-Noel. One paper headed the article “Grenada to observe Tourism Awareness Week.” Another: “Hon Minister of Tourism Alexandra Otway-Noel on the Commencement of Caribbean Tourism Day – 2013.”
In the article, the minister talks about the beginning of the cruise ship season and “initiatives to improve the quality of experiences that visitors can enjoy during their brief visit to our shores.” Which I have to say is very encouraging; however, the article went on: “We have targeted the beach cleaners and security personnel to increase their level of understanding of the workings of the industry and the important role that they are required to play.”
I have to ask. Does this minister lives in Ooze or cloud cuckoo land? I say this with the greatest of respect to the minister because whosoever wrote the article on behalf of the minister is either pulling a wool over her eyes (not physically I hope) or is just another pen pusher and doesn’t know what they are talking about.
Dogs are roaming our beaches including Grand Anse and Morne Rouge and dog droppings are everywhere to be seen. The signs that say “no dogs are allowed” are ignored by dog owners as well as our beach patrols – police are nowhere to be seen; those that say: “clean up” are also ignored not only by dog owners but also by the so called beach cleaners and security personnel.
I am suggesting the title of security personnel should be changed to “beach posers” because that is all these people do if they ever go onto the beaches. Pride in one’s job and an honest day’s work is not part of these people’s personal characteristics.
Sad to say, but the workshop experience that the minister speaks about one has to assume goes into one ear and straight out the other or perhaps it just bounces off their body. Pandy beach, noted for its variety of sea shells, is used as a dog toilet by the people with dogs whose property backs onto the beach. These people play totally ignorant to the word “hygiene.”
The whole of the minister’s article seems to concentrate on cruise ships and sadly makes no mention whatsoever of air passengers or anything to help increase the footfall or throughput at Maurice Bishop International Airport. It would be interesting to see the figures of arrivals and departures of aircraft and passengers at Maurice Bishop International Airport from when this present government left office as against the current annual figures.
The short-sightedness of this article on the tourism industry of the Caribbean and Grenada in particular is beyond belief. It is of no help or assurance to the struggling hotels and small business industry and I hope that I will be supported here because, as I see it, while we welcome the cruise ship business with open arms, it has little or no impact whatsoever on the stay over hotel or letting accommodation businesses.
The businesses that accommodate holidaymakers/tourists in the country for a week, two weeks and beyond need positive action by the government and the ministry of tourism in particular to survive.
Austerity measures in the United States and Western Europe were well in place prior to this government taking office yet we had more passenger aircraft landing and taking off, with more people visiting these shores than we are witnessing now. The economic pressures that consumers faced in the United States and the European Union, including high unemployment and foreclosures as a direct result of the banking crisis on both sides of the Atlantic, has eased considerably; consumers in these countries are now experiencing an increase in employment and economic growth. Consumer spending is up in many if not all EU countries and the US, so why is there no reflection of this in terms of activity here in Grenada?
Part of the problem, minister, is the lack of direct flights from Europe. I know of no direct flight from Europe. The few that come appear to be via other countries. Charter flights (cheap flights) from Europe ceased during the NDC stint in office. And this is where the minister should be putting resources to find out what went wrong with charter flights from the UK (Monarch) and Condor from Germany.
The cheapest flight from the UK is nearly £600. Consumers are just not prepared to pay this much for a week or two in Grenada, so they fly to other destinations in the Caribbean by charter flights at roughly two-thirds the cost.
Before the last government left office both my wife and I would fly here for just over £600 return for the both of us; today it cost us over £1,200-plus and we have to come via another Caribbean island. Admittedly, there is additional UK government tax, which is cleverly referred to as Air Traffic Passenger Duty, but still one only has to go onto certain websites to see the cost of return charter flights from the UK to Tobago and, incidentally, it is the same flight that went to Tobago up to a few years ago via Maurice Bishop International Airport.
It is time this minister got on her bike and takes what action is necessary to restore charter flights from at least the UK and Germany to this country because the spin off is enormous – airport tax; the benefit to the transport industry; the hotel industry; retail industry and the leisure side of tourism.
God knows Grenada needs it and with St Vincent building a new international airport, Grenada needs to get its act together, if only to stay ahead of the game.