The Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) believes it is poised to push the island’s tourism industry to another higher level.
Chairman of the Authority, local businessman Richard Strachan said the GTA is now in a position to raise its own revenue through licensing and certification and other areas that will be explored.
Strachan along with some of the leading members of the GTA held a press conference last week to brief the media on the performance of the authority since its establishment in January.
The insurance executive said that the aim of GTAS is to ensure that Grenada become a global household name with a unique unspoilt product focused on quality over quantity.
GTA’s Chief Executive Officer, Barbadian Rudy Grant said the new tourism body will embark on new licensing on tourist operations throughout the country in order to try and collect in excess of $100,000.00 through the license fees for tourist operations per year.
Grant said that the Authority was collecting license fees on some 250 enterprises but this has now increased to more than 800 ventures.
He told reporters that despite financial constraints, GTA will find innovative ways to market the Spice Isle destination with the assistance of famous persons with Grenadian connection such as British decorated solider, Dr. Johnson Beharry and Oscar winning actor, Steve McQueen.
He said that the creation of the authority signals the start of a new Journey for the body to focus on Marketing, Product Development, Quality Assurance, Research & Planning and Commercial.
Prior to the setting up of the GTA, the island’s tourism product was handled by the Grenada Board of Tourism (GBT), which depended entirely on government for an annual subvention to operate.
Undeterred by the controversy, which forced the GTA to alter its Pure Grenada label, Grant says the Pure Grenada concept is not designed to replace the island’s national Spice Isle identity but rather to more clearly position its unique product in the minds of consumers.
“The PURE brand sets us apart from mass tourism. It helps us to sustain the assets that we are using to attract visitors”, he added.
According to Grant, the new branding is a call for all Grenadians to do their best.
The GTA has given an undertaking to place more emphasis on product development in partnership with the state-run Grenada Industrial and Development Cooperation (GIDC).
New products include Grenada Kite Surfing School, Moon Over St George’s, Grenada Hire Wire Challenge and the creation of the Grand Etang Eco Village Resort.
Some of the GTA’s local market programmes are the soft launch of Pure Talk, Primary School Tourism Booklet (Facts & Quizzes) and Easter Kite Flying Competition (Pure Brand Awareness).
Grant disclosed that it was a challenge for the authority to operate the first half of the year without tourism representatives in two of the island’s biggest tourism markets – United States (30%) and Canada (14%) and is in the process of filling those vacant positions.
The United Kingdom accounts for 23% of Grenada’s tourism market while the Caribbean accounts for 19%.
Grant said the GTA will focus on several niche markets such as Diving Yachting/Sailing, and Wedding/Honeymoons as they seek to develop the entity as a self-sustained independent organisation.
The GTA has realized a 13.89% increase in long stay and cruise visitors, 18.59% increase in long stay arrivals, 11.95% increase in cruise arrivals but a 3.27 decrease in yacht arrivals during the first half of the year.
The GTA boss also announced that the authority hosted more than 100 journalists during the past six months.
Tourism Minister, Alexander Otway-Noel who was also present assured the Grenadian people that the rebranding of the Pure Grenada concept did not cost taxpayers any money, but instead was a collective effort.
She said the rebranding of the destination gained international acceptance, feedbacks and benefits and it is now the task of GTA to showcase Grenada’s great potential.
Tourism has emerged in recent years as the leading foreign exchange earner for the island.