World Investment News (WI): From a tourism perspective, what makes Grenada unique, and how are you positioning the country?
Ms. Patricia Maher (PM): Grenada's nature is pristine. We are located in the Caribbean, one of the most beautiful regions of the world, and the country has much to offer, from beautiful beaches and a stunning rainforest, to a rich and lively culture.
The different islands in the region work together in order to promote the region globally and each country has its particularities and uniqueness. One of the aspects that sets Grenada apart are the spices, which is why we are known as the Spice Island or the Spice of the Caribbean. We are promoting the country under the "Pure Grenada" strategy, because you find an authentic, real, living destination that has to do with natural and unspoiled wonders.
We are a blessed island because of the wonderful combination that exists between agriculture and tourism; the country is blessed with mother nature. If you look out the window, you can see all sorts of exotic fruits and trees, from nutmeg, to cinnamon, ginger, cashew trees, cacao, etc. This is what makes Grenada so unique, and it is something we are very proud of.
WI: How are you looking to promote and market Grenada as a tourist destination?
PM: Although we are a small island, we have a nice wide product range in terms of what we offer our visitors.
Apart obviously from our pristine white sandy beaches, we have an impressive rainforest with over 15 waterfalls. I want to highlight our chocolate factories, of which we have five and all can be visited by many tourists. Visitors can see the entire manufacturing process, from picking the cocoa beans from the tree, right up to the finished product. Some manufacturers are now including spices in their chocolate products, so you can find nutmeg chocolate, ginger chocolate, etc.
We also have three rum factories, and a new one is on its way; we have over 30 dive sites, including 15 dive wrecks; we have the world's first Underwater Sculpture Park; impressive hikes through our rainforest, etc.
Grenada is a multi-destination country, because apart from the island of Grenada, we have Petite Martinique and Carriacou, and each island presents their own special attributes, from natural wonders to festivals and cultural events. You can find a different festival every month of the year, and Spicesmas Carnival is our national Festival. It takes place in August and it is currently the hottest festival in the Caribbean.
WI: The tourism sector has taken off, and the numbers show it. The industry has grown almost 12 percent compared to the previous year. What factors are behind this impressive growth?
PM: We have stepped up our marketing efforts; we are now reaching out to the world with what Grenada has to offer. We have engaged a public relations company in the US to help us market the destination in our main markets; we are also attending many more international tourism shows and events, etc.
WI: How is the country expanding its tourism infrastructures and services in order to cater for the growing number of visitors?
PM: We have many projects in this regard; many branded hotels are expanding and opening throughout the island. We estimate that we have around 3,000 rooms on the island that can accommodate visitors, from hotels and villas to guesthouses. The interesting thing is the wide range of options that exist, from small boutique and family owned hotels, to high end luxury resorts; we offer something to suit every type of traveller.
We have had some significant announcements for the development of the luxury market; I would like to mention Silversands Grenada, Kimpton Kawana Bay, and Six Senses in La Sagesse developed by Range Developments. These are in addition to our luxury hotels such as Sandals Grenada, Spice Island Beach Resort and Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel, which are all helping the development of the luxury high end tourism in the country.
As you can see, there are many new developments underway, which will help position Grenada as a preferred tourism destination in the region. And this is just the beginning.
WI: How is the Authority working with the private sector in order to develop human capital training?
PM: We are very engaged with our private sector. We have a quality assurance department in the Tourism Authority, and we licence and certify the hotels, as well as service providers such as taxi drivers, water taxis and water sports operators, tour guides etc.
We recently completed a week long hospitality training in Carriacou. We focused on front office and operational skills such as housekeeping as well as digital marketing for people and stakeholders who operate within the tourism sector.
WI: What role does China play in your promotional and marketing strategy?
PM: It is important that we improve the connectivity between both nations; but in the long term, the Chinese market has significant potential, more so in terms of the clientele who are looking for a high end tourism experience.
WI: What final message would you like to convey to our 14.6 million readers?
PM: In one sentence: Grenada is a pure destination which represents the quintessential Caribbean: pristine and unspoiled; with warm and friendly people and I am certain that visitors will have beautiful and memorable experiences.