Bridgetown, Barbados — With a Barbadian now at the helm of its main tourism promotional agency, Grenada is making a deliberate attempt to lure more Barbadian visitors to its shores.
In fact, a team from the neighbouring Caribbean Spice isle is here this week promoting travel to St George’s in the hope of boosting visitor arrivals from Bridgetown.
Speaking at a media conference Tuesday morning at the Sandals Barbados resort, Chief Executive Officer of the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) Rudy Grant said officials from Grenada and its sister islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique would be meeting with travel agents as part of the “This is The Life promotion”.
Grant, a Barbadian, said the move was the first step in cementing relations between the two destinations.
He pointed out that while the GTA had embarked on a major regional promotional drive, starting with Trinidad about two years ago, it had done very little in Barbados over the years to “stimulate the growth of that important source market”.
However, Grant acknowledged that Barbados currently accounts for about 13 per cent of Grenada’s total visitor arrivals from the Caribbean.
“We have been able, during the period January to July, to observe overall, in our visitor arrivals, an increase of 22 per cent and we anticipate that as we continue throughout the year that we will see increases as well,” he said.
“We are in Barbados because Barbados is an important source market.
Within the Caribbean region, between the period January and July, we have seen an increase of ten per cent in our visitor arrival numbers
Fifty-three per cent of our visitors come from Trinidad and Tobago and 13 per cent comes from Barbados,” said the former Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Public Relations Officer and ex-Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport here.
He also pointed out that the Caribbean is Grenada’s third largest source market for tourists after the United Kingdom and the United States.
“We thought it very important to come here this week and to meet with all of the travel agents in Barbados to tell them about Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique and to encourage more Barbadians to visit the tri-island state,” said Grant, who sees significant potential for growth.
Also addressing the news conference, GTA’s Marketing Manager Francine Stewart spoke of the range of cultural and other activities that Grenada has on offer.
“We think and we know that when you come over we can give you a different experience from what you are used to,” Stewart said in encouraging Barbadians to visit.
Meanwhile, the issue of regional travel through a ferry service also came up for discussion in Barbados.
Regional tourism officials have been eager in recent years to see the launch of a passenger ferry service in the Caribbean, which they say has the potential to reduce the cost of intra-regional travel.
Executive member of the Grenada Association of Barbados, Conrad Mason believes that such a development would also encourage more Caribbean nationals to travel within the region.
“Very often you hear comments when you promote Grenada, that it is cheaper to travel to Miami than it is to Grenada. So clearly travel is important and cheaper travel is important,” he said, while harking back to the days of the Federal Palm and Federal Maple when it was common practice for West Indians to travel from one island to another.
He stressed the importance of intra-regional travel to the region’s tourism and overall development.
Just last month, there were reports that the long-awaited passenger ferry service linking some of the islands in the Caribbean could become a reality by year-end.
Caribbean Ferry Service, a three-year-old company registered in Barbados, was said to be in the process of finalising paperwork to operate two vessels, The Dream Jet Express and The Opal Jet Express, for travel and cargo through the region.
The company’s Chief Executive Officer Randy Connor was quoted in the press here as saying that the service would be initially accessible to travellers in Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Lucia and that the vessels would have two homeports: St Vincent and the Grenadines and Barbados, which is also the company’s headquarters.
However, while agreeing that a passenger ferry service was a viable option that would help to increase travel within the region, Chief Executive Officer of the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) Rudy Grant on Tuesday declined to go into detail on the planned ferry service, except to say that he believed “it is a mode of transportation that will become a reality”.
“I do know of persons looking at projects which involve the ferry service and I think that would be a good thing for us to have. It would allow for greater movement of people in the region. It would be another transportation option and it would provide some form of competition as well as it relates to air transportation,” said Grant, who was addressing a media conference at Sandals Barbados where he announced a major “This is the Life” tourism promotion, in which Grenada is seeking to get more visitors from Barbados.
“We certainly support other transportation options and we certainly look forward with enthusiasm to ferry services coming. Of course the ferry service requires collaboration with the varying countries and with their port authorities as well, but I do believe . . . that ferry service can provide an additional option of transportation and can help us, certainly in Grenada as well as other countries in the region to enhance and to see growth within our tourism industry,” added Grant.