Former Chairman of the Grenada Board of Tourism (GBT), Richard Strachan is the new Chairman of the newly established Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA).
Minister for Tourism Alexandra Otway-Noel made the announcement at a press conference held last week Friday to update the media on the establishment of the new Tourism body to replace the Grenada Board of Tourism (GBT).
Strachan, Managing Director of Netherlands Insurance Company, is a former Chairman of the Board of Director in 2001-04, and 2008-11.
The senior government minister said that the eleven month old New National Party (NNP) administration is honoured that Strachan has accepted the position and looks forward to working with him.
The GTA has also appointed former Barbadian senator and parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Tourism under the Owen Arthur Government in Barbados, Rudy Grant as Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
The GTA team also comprises former Manager of Marketing Communications at telecommunications company LIME, Sheldon Keens-Douglas who is the new Director of Marketing.
The authority officially opened its doors to the public on January 2 with a budget of $12 million, which caters for marketing, airlift, site development and training.
The role of the Authority is to promote Grenada as a premium tourist destination targeting markets for visitors in USA, UK, Europe, and the Caribbean.
Other members of the Grenada Tourism Authority Board of Directors would be named this week.
Minister Otway-Noel also used the press conference to update the media on government’s decision to rescind the US$5 per night head tax on stay-over visitors at hotels and guest houses in the face of opposition from the Grenada Tourism & Hotel Association (GHTA).
She said that an alternative to the levy to be used for marketing by GTA will not be known for at least another year.
“Although we’ve been able to be very creative and do a lot with very little, we do have to pay attention to the needs of our marketing budget, so we will continue to speak and have dialogue with the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association (GHTA) and we would find another alternative and it may not be this year, maybe next year, we would look at something. So there is no pressure and of course the door remains open, we always have room for consultation,” she added.
The cash-strapped Keith Mitchell-led government had initially included the new head tax in its draft letter of intent for submission to the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) to get its approval for the 3-year home grown Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) to deal with the island’s financial and economic woos.
Minister Otway-Noel told reporters that she wants the tourism industry to bounce back and as such while Government needs to raise monies for marketing the country, she understands the financial challenges experienced by local hoteliers and the fragile reality of the industry.
Last month, members of the GHTA held a meeting with Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Timothy Antoine to raise concerns about the US$5 head tax.
The Association made it clear that it would not accept the Levy and put forward a five-point proposal to government as an alternative to the US$5 Levy. The proposed alternatives have not been disclosed.
The Levy was announced during the $933.9 million Budget of Revenue and Expenditure for 2014 as presented by Prime Minister Mitchell in his capacity as Finance Minister on December 10.
Dr. Mitchell informed Parliament that the decision to implement the Levy came following discussions with stakeholders.
However, the GHTA denied that the NNP administration held discussions with it on implementing the levy.
The Prime Minister announced that the funds collected from the Levy will be collected by Government and channeled to the GTA for the sole purpose of marketing Grenada.
The new tax was expected to bring in $2 million for the authority.