Employees at the Grenada Board of Tourism (GBT) could find themselves facing unemployment or relocation as the Government of Grenada transition the GBT into the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA).
Government has hired the services of former Minister for Tourism and International Transport in Barbados, Noel Lynch to help put the structures in place.
Lynch who is associated with the opposition Barbados Labour Party (GLP) is also the Executive Vice President of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, and Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Association.
Speaking to reporters in St. George’s last week Wednesday, Lynch said that the GBT transition has the full backing of the bargaining agents for the workers, the Technical and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) of President General, Chester Humphrey.
He said the team charged with the responsibility of creating the new entity is negotiating with the union in the interest of the employees.
“He (Chester) is in full endorsement of the concept of the creation of the tourism authority,” Lynch said.
“We are going to dissolve the Grenada Board of Tourism. The Grenada Board of Tourism dissolution is going to call for severing all existing staff of the GBT, all”, he added.
The Bajan Consultant announced that there is a core of people within the GBT who will be given an opportunity to be included in the interview process as everybody else.
“There will be a process of severing staff, interviewing everybody for any position for which they requesting, but obviously we are going to the market, we’re going to the open market, and we are advertising all of the positions as well”, Lynch said.
GBT issued a letter of notice to TAWU last week Tuesday informing the bargaining agent that the state -owned entity would be closed on December 10, and December 11 the GTA will be opened.
Lynch said that GBT employees would also be notified within 29 days of the upcoming change.
The transitioning of the Grenada Board of Tourism was disclosed during the 2013 Budget presentation by Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Dr. Keith Mitchell when he announced that the “unshackling of Grenada’s Tourism demands institutional transformation”.
The Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association and other key stakeholders have been calling frequently for status change in GBT.
Dr. Mitchell told Parliament then: “We have listened. The sum of EC$3.5 million has been allocated to facilitate the establishment of the Tourism Authority. We anticipate the creation of this Authority will lead to a modern and more effective approach to the management of Grenada’s tourism business”.
THE NEW TODAY understands that the $3.5 million allocation would not include the fees to be paid to Lynch.
While he disclosed that his services “is a labour of love” but not voluntary, Government officials at the press conference refused to disclose the salary to be paid to the Consultant.
“A lot of this is a labour of love, I like Grenada”, said Lynch who was quick to point out that Grenada has been missing the boat for a very long time and seriously lagging behind in the industry.
“You have a framework that doesn’t allow you to take advantage fully of the pillars and all the areas of development you need to be looking at”, he added.
Minister for Tourism, Alexandra Otway-Noel stepped in and said that Lynch “is a very good friend to Grenada and has made himself available wherever necessary… so don’t worry”.
Like the former Barbados Tourism Minister, the senior NNP government minister said that Grenada has missed the boat and it was now costing “a lot of money to get Grenada back on line”.
“You get what you pay for”, said the female government minister who is also the Member of Parliament for the South St. George constituency.
Otway-Noel is confident that the GBT staff would be adequately “taken care of” as they prepare to make major changes under the GTA such as the re-branding and marketing of Grenada’s tourism product.
“This government came into office and found a tourism sector that was failing, every area of tourism, our yachting, our dive, our cruise line industry, the airlift, our hotel sector, everything has stalled and Grenada was at the bottom of the list in the Caribbean as it relates to arrivals …”, she said.
“…Now we use the lame excuse, says it was the global economic situation. Well if one million people travel and even more are expected to travel next year, then I think we can do a little creative marketing, we can attract a little more business to Grenada. It is the strategy that we have used that has not worked, and this is what we need to adjust now,” she added.
Former Director of the GBT, Simon Stiell who was spearheading the implementation of a Strategic Plan under the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration of former Prime Minister, Tillman Thomas, for the transition said about the Plan that was put in place that while some things have changed over the years, the existing document would be used as a guide for the GTA and possibly reviewed.
Legislation to enable implementation of the GTA is expected to be among the first to be tabled in Parliament when its reopens within weeks.