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World Tourism Day

Navigating through the dark clouds but there is a silver lining!

This year's World Tourism Day was unlike any other in previous years. The landscape presents so many paradoxes for Caribbean businesses whether hotels, farmers, restaurants, supermarkets and importers, tour companies, restaurants and other service related companies. There are huge potential areas of opportunity but at the same time, huge threats which we have to tackle. These threats are largely outside the control of the local tourism and general business sector. However, they could have a devastating and lasting impact on Caribbean business. But we should always start with the opportunities and focus on the positives.

The Silver Lining More than ever before there is remarkable opportunity for greater command of the global market share through new business. The Caribbean region is being perceived as the new tourism hotspot for US and UK travelers. UK and USA residents are ready to travel again and there is tremendous focus on the Caribbean. Because of our proximity to the USA and UK and the direct air-links, we in the region will become even more of a focal tourism point.

In Grenada, there are extremely powerful signs of what is to come and the tremendous potential in the market.

  • The re-opening of Spice Island Beach Resort, the island's most renowned luxury brand;

  • The arrival and reopening of the new Marriott Autograph. The Island's first Marriott Hotel

  • The creation of a new ultra luxury "six star" market in Grenada, with the opening of the Silversands

  • The continued strong performance of Sandals Grenada

  • The tremendous press generated by the Calabash Hotel in the UK market and their innovative approach to creating new linkages between agriculture and tourism.

  • The positioning of Carriacou as the "key" to the Grenadines with the opening of the modern and well equipped Tyrrel Bay Marina

  • The launch of the West Indies School for Hospitality (WISH) in partnership with E- Cornell, providing over 5000 hospitality scholarships per year.

  • A new agreement between GTA and SGU aimed at welcoming hundreds of SGU graduates every year, to their "second home."

  • The assembly of a world class marketing team at the Grenada Tourism Authority and in all the source markets

  • New hotel products being created such as; Silversands Legacy, Silver sands Beach House, Range Six Senses Hotel; Coral Cove Resort; and the Kimpton hotel

  • ABOVE ALL AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, Grenada's tourism employees are 100 percent vaccinated.

These tell a tale of a market that is in the ready position, ready for take-off to soar to new heights. All of the elements needed are in place: 1. A coordinated marketing plan 2. Access to high quality training 3. Exciting product offering 4. New hotel inventory on the way 5. One of the few destinations in the world with 100 percent vaccinated tourism employees

JOBS This will mean more jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities. Right now, any qualified person in tourism seeking a job will be able to get it. And very soon, anyone wanting to switch into tourism will be able to find a job in the sector. The over 1000 rooms in various stages of construction will ensure this is a reality within the next 2 years.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP The increased rooms and massive construction plan will also lead to more entrepreneurial opportunities. Grenada's young creative minds should set their sights on these new opportunities. Too many tourism services have to still be outsourced which lessens the multiplier effect and leeches away at foreign reserves. Marketing; maintenance; construction; food and beverage, unique local products, unique tours and experiences.

The Grey Cloud With all of this good news, there are two very concerning areas which could potentially be a threat.

The tremendous gains we have made and the potential opportunity can be severely harmed by vaccine hesitancy.

Although our tourism workforce is vaccinated, the threats to other sectors of society not taking the decision to vaccinate can cause a protracted high risk CDC rating and a possibility of a UK red rating.

Therefore, tourism companies and other companies related to tourism may have to take the decision only to do business with fully vaccinated companies.

The other dark and threatening cloud is the impact of climate change on Grenada and the Caribbean. This is going to become apparent sooner than we think and therefore we must take some decisions now which will help to mitigate the impact. This will need thought and preparation. Each Caribbean island should use the Hurricane Season to raise awareness of Climate Change in a practical way for its citizens and on the international stage for global policy makers.

My advice to young people now would be:

  • Learn specialized construction/maintenance services. There is a huge shortage of technicians for mechanical electrical and plumbing and professionals specializing in finishes for different surfaces

  • Focus on IT Services and online services which connect the customer to the hotel and which can bring direct revenue. Get as qualified as you can doing specialized courses and gaining work experience. Stop wasting time doing videos and posting pics with no distribution channel

  • Find a good food and beverage training course and pursue it. Don' t be afraid of travel!, embrace it! Work experience in different countries will be your best teacher! There are huge opportunities for chefs, junior chefs, sommeliers, food and beverage managers.

  • Learn a foreign language

  • Explore new technology ideas in A.I. and the Metaverse. These add-ons will be a key part of the future of customer experience

The opportunities have never been more abounding!


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