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October seen as turning point for tourism industry

by Linda Straker (NOW Grenada)

  • Last recorded positive Covid-19 case was in July
  • 3 international airlines return to Grenada in October
  • Hotels in-house protocol will be complementary to national protocol for incoming passengers

With the return of 3 international airlines to Grenada in October 2020, there is every indication that October is set to be a turning point for Grenada’s tourism industry, which went into hiatus in March because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The airlines from 2 of our major international source markets are set to resume weekly flights, and Sandals Hotel is set to reopen. I see that as incredibly positive news for the tourism industry,” said Tourism Minister, Clarice Modeste. “American Airlines, JetBlue and Air Canada will be offering weekly flights to the island and this will see our hotels once again welcoming guests, and with guests comes the return of employment for many in the sector.”

Grenada is part of the Caricom bubble and 3 smaller airlines provide connecting flights from Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines or Antigua. The international airlines are set to resume the weekly flights during the first 8 days of October. However, Sandals, which is an all-inclusive property, will reopen as of 1 October.

“This is exciting news for Grenada. We look forward to the reopening of the hotel and to resume welcoming visitors to our shores. This will largely signal the resumption of activity in the tourism sector, which has been particularly hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, is quoted as saying in a news release from the Government Information Service (GIS). “What is even more heartwarming is that hundreds of our nationals are returning the work after 6 months. This is good news on a personal level for these employees, and for the suppliers of goods and services, who benefit indirectly from the hotel’s operations. On a wider scale, it is also good news for the country and I am truly heartened by this announcement.”

As part of adjusting to the new normal with guidance from the new health protocol, several hotels in Grenada received the approval from government to be official quarantine facilities, and this gave them limited business with reduced staff.

Radisson, Sandals and Royalton are 3 international hotel brands operating in Grenada and each one of them has in-house health and cleanliness protocols that are mandatory for the operating of the properties. Last weekend, Sandals held a 2-day workshop where, among other initiatives, shared its cleanliness protocol with government officials.

“The hotels in-house protocol is for the operations of the hotels and it will be complementary to our national protocol for incoming passengers. What this means that once we clear them at the airport and [they] are allowed to leave quarantine facilities, the hotel guest now has to comply with the in-house health protocols,” explained Modeste, as she pointed out that all hotel properties have in-house protocols.

Radisson never closed its operation; Sandals will reopen on 1 October, while Royalton is scheduled to reopen on 29 November 2020.

In a recent news conference, Health Minister, Nickolas Steele, indicated that Grenada was reviewing its health entry protocol. Currently, all arriving passengers from international cities must present a PCR negative test result dated no less than 7 days before entry. The cities of original departure will determine the length of the quarantine stay.

It is anticipated that by 1 October there will be a new health protocol which will work in harmony with the new Quarantine (Covid-19) regulations and the Public Health Act regulations.

It means among other things, that just like locals, visits to tourist attractions or any facility outside of the hotel contact tracing information will be required. Already there is a new health protocol for places of entertainment. The size of the venue or the location of a social event will determine the number of persons allowed to attend.

The first Covid-19 case was diagnosed on 22 March and days later a state of emergency with a curfew was declared, placing the island in lockdown to international commercial traffic. Grenada was not the only country in the region to take such action, because by April almost all of Caricom was in lockdown as part of efforts to control and contain the contagion.

By June, the curfew was removed and that began a new normal as health and law enforcement officials began applying the new health protocols. Critical in that protocol was the opening of the international airport to accept returning nationals.

Grenada currently has 24 recorded Covid-19 cases, all of whom have recovered. The last recorded positive Covid-19 case was in July 2020.