St. George’s, December 1, 2011 (GIS) – The banking industry and other members of the local private sector are being urged to provide more financial support in the development of tourism in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

Private sector backing is needed especially in ensuring the success of community tourism, said Hon. Peter David, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation.

Community tourism is included as one of the items in a new tourism strategic plan unveiled Tuesday at a conference at the Trade Centre in Morne Rouge, St. George’s.

“For community tourism to be a success, a mechanism for micro-financing for small businessmen and women must be put in place,’’ Mr. David said.

“I am of the view that large parts of our private sector still do not understand or appreciate the importance of the industry. Our insurance companies, banks and other financial institutions must invest in the tourism industry. Local businessmen and women must form consortia to invest in our sites and other attractions.’’

The Tourism Minister complimented Spice Basket owner, Hugh Dolland, and other business people whom, he said, had “taken the risk and invested in the industry at a time when the economic climate is challenging.’’

Tuesday’s conference and the unveiling of the strategy, which Mr. David described as “a new beginning for Grenada’s tourism Industry,’’ brought together more than 300 local and regional tourism and political officials.

They included Grenada’s Prime Minister, Hon. Tillman Thomas; Richard Sealy, Minister of Tourism for Barbados; and St. Kitts and Nevis Tourism Minister Ricky Skeritt, who is chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.

The strategic plan is designed to significantly improve the quality and scope of local tourism, which is said to be the largest contributor to Grenada’s Gross Domestic Product.

“Tourism is about enjoying the beautiful things in life. Let’s make Grenada even more beautiful for the world to enjoy,’’ said Mr. David, who is also Minister of Culture.

To enhance the tourism product, one part of the new plan calls for the setting up of an Implementation Task Force (ITF) or Tourism Strategy Implementation Body (TSIB) to be chaired by the Tourism Minister.

“The ITF or TSIB will be responsible for the execution and delivery of the plan,’’ he announced. “The ITF will have sub-committees comprising persons with a track record of success and who are drawn from a wide cross-section of Grenadian society.’’

Additionally, there will be the replacement of the Grenada Board of Tourism with a Tourism Authority, and an evaluation of customer service at ports of entry, including Maurice Bishop International Airport.

The evaluation, said Mr. David, “will be geared towards having the friendliest and safest ports of entry in the Caribbean, but also ports that eliminate all unnecessary delays in processing entry to the country of would-be visitors. I’ve met more than a few visitors who, while thoroughly enjoying Grenada, are wary of returning to have to spend 60 or 90 minutes to clear immigration and customs.’’

Young people are also a focus of Grenada’s tourism enhancement initiatives, the minister said.

“We are also looking to the future in terms of creating greater appreciation for tourism and training a new cadre of sector workers,’’ said Mr. David. “Tourism education is now being taught to students in 26 primary and secondary schools. It is a subject on the syllabus of our secondary schools and can be taken as part of the CXC Examinations.’’





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