By Yin Yeping
Beijing, China – More than 10,000 kilometers away from Beijing in the warm Caribbean Sea is Grenada, an island country with a population of 100,000, renowned for its tropical beautiful landscape and traditional culture. Grenada is gaining affection for an immigration policy that is aiming to draw Chinese investors to the island. The Global Times (GT) interviewed Karl Hood, the Grenadian Ambassador to China, about the perks of Grenada and what to look out for when making plans to travel there.
GT: Immigrating to island countries has become a hot topic among the Chinese. Grenada has become one of their target destinations. What are your thoughts on this trend?
Hood: One of the things that we are trying to do is to encourage investment. Given the fact that the Chinese economy is going to be the strongest in the world, you will find a lot of Chinese who are wealthy and want to make investments overseas. Our investment immigration program for Chinese citizens started less than a year ago. We will not run this program forever, however, because we want to maintain a level of development to an extent that the country will not be overly exploited.
GT: There have been many immigration agencies promoting their immigration services with very cheap prices to countries like Grenada. What advice do you have for Chinese applicants?
Hood: I have seen many advertisements from agencies, and there are some misrepresentations to the point that it looks as though investing in Grenada is just about buying a passport and does not involve much else. If there are any agencies that offer services for investment immigration to Grenada that are too good to be true, then call us to double check.
The price for investment immigration to Grenada is about $200,000, which is not very expensive. You will be granted citizenship, and the privilege of that citizenship extends to your children.
Nevertheless, the conditions to apply are not simple. For instance, we do background checks to ensure we are not willingly participating in money laundering or criminal activity.
GT: What are Grenada’s tourism advantages compared to other Caribbean countries?
Hood: I often say that when you look at all the Caribbean islands, Grenada has one of the most beautiful islands in the region. Grenada is not overly developed or exploited, and that makes it more appealing because it looks like a “virgin territory.” There is room for development but we do not want to (do too much) because we want to maintain its originality and nature.
Also, those who have been to Grenada often tell me that its people are much more open and friendly. There is no discrimination in terms of who you are or where you are from.
GT: What do you want Chinese tourists in particular to know about Grenada?
Hood: One of the difficulties that I find with Chinese people is they do not like the sun. I am also not sure how many of them love diving. Yet for those who do, there are some very beautiful places to dive, including Grenada’s Underwater Sculpture Park. Grand Anse Beach is also among the top 10 in the world. Our country is about relaxing and moves at a slow pace. I would not say shopping would be very good in Grenada.
People should try “Oil down”, which is our national dish made with breadfruit. I recommend people to try it. They’ll have to venture outside of the hotel to find it though.
GT: What do you want to achieve during your tenure?
Hood: China has been very good to us. Over the years, China has assisted us with infrastructure and development. Currently, China is helping us with the construction of a national stadium.
Because we do not have a direct flight between Grenada and China, the Chinese not only have to get a Grenada visa, but also one for the US or UK. We are trying to set up a direct flight between China and Grenada, and hopefully, it will be established in 2015.
I also hope to boost scholarship for students and investments in tourism-related projects between the two sides and visa exemption.