Chief Executive Officer of the Grenada Tourism Authority, Rudy Grant, has strongly dismissed comments that suggest that the industry is not performing as good as it should as published in a letter written by a former Director of Tourism, William Joseph and appearing in August 5, 2016 issue of THE NEW TODAY newspaper.
In the letter entitled, “Rescue Mission for the GTA”, Joseph heavily criticised the appointment of the Barbadian national Grant as GTA CEO and branded the authority as “a high-cost, newly-legislated carcass” that has been underperforming due to a lack of promised resources from the Keith Mitchell-led administration.
Grant hit back at a press conference called by GTA at its headquarters in St. George’s last week Friday.
He acknowledged that “this has been a challenging period for the GTA, having to confront with the loss of air seats on Caribbean Airlines (CA) coming out of Trinidad, direct flights out of New York and Toronto (as well as) the loss of air seats on Conviasa Airlines out of Venezuela”.
However, the GTA boss said, the Authority is making the best use of the resources that it has noting that while there has been a 2% decline on the Canadian market, “there is some brightness on the horizon”.
“What is interesting to report is that the flights coming in with Air Canada are full, in excess of 100%, so we have a situation where we lost airlift coming out of Canada, but we have seen an increase of 15% of persons travelling on Air Canada”, he told reporters.
“I am happy to report for example that for the month of July we would have seen an increase – so even though the number of seats coming into Grenada (from Canada) for the month of July were less, we were able to see more visitors coming to Grenada because the load on the aircrafts (Air Canada, American Airlines and Jet Blue Airlines) has increased in the vicinity of 10% on average”, he said.
The GTA boss also reported a 21% increase in visitor arrivals from the United States market, (which) represented 45% of the island’s overall arrival numbers between January and July 2016.
“We are still engaging in other actions to ensure that we get more persons coming”, Grant said while making mention of plans to roll out US$500, 000 partnerships with American Airlines and Delta Airways, respectively.
Grant said more information would be provided as the partnerships unfold, which he is optimistic will “ensure that we get maximum benefit and maximum returns out of the dollars that we spend”.
As it relates to the UK market, the GTA CEO noted that although there was a 5% decline, the island has witnessed “very robust growth in the entire European region”.
“We have had the issue of Brexit where there is a lot of uncertainty, but we have not been just resting on our knowledge, what we have been seeking to do is to ensure that we engage in effective target marketing in the UK”, he said, adding that the UK represents 19% of Grenada’s overall visitor arrivals.
According to Grant, arrivals from the Caribbean have increased by 10% but there has been a small decline in Trinidad of less than 1%, but an increase of 16% in the figures from Barbados.
He spoke of plans to boost marketing in Trinidad including a radio and television campaign in the neighbouring twin island republic.
He said that discussions are also ongoing with regional air carrier LIAT, which is one of the largest transporters of visitor arrivals in comparison with American Airlines, to deepen relationship in the region so as to engage in “soft adventure and romance” marketing initiatives.
According to Grant, even though the 2016-17 upcoming cruise season is “somewhat flat” especially between October/November to April 2017, the reality is that there is growth for the calendar year 2016 (with an) increase of 23% in visitor arrivals taking account of yachting, cruise and stay-over visitors.
“So it is not accurate to suggest that we are not working and that we are not seeing successes here at the tourism authority and with respect to the tourism industry”, the CEO said.
Meanwhile, the 2016 – 2017 cruise season opens with West Indian Cruise Line making the first cruise call to Grenada on October 1st.
A total 213 cruise calls are expected this season with, seven ships scheduled to make inaugural calls including Norwegian Gem (November 1), Mein Schiff 5 (November 26), Seven Seas Explorer (December 10), Rotterdam (December 28), Carnival Pride (January 9, 2017, Sojourn (January 22, 2017) and Crystal Serenity (April 4, 2017).