As Grenadians anticipate the return of international flights, and with some resorts ready to reopen, the country’s minister of tourism, Clarice Modeste, is expecting a turnaround in fortunes for the local tourism industry.
“The airlines from two 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,” Modeste said recently.
“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,” she added.
While Sandals will reopen on October 1, international airlines are set to resume the weekly flights during the first 8 days of October. As part of the Caricom tourism and travel bubble, Grenada will also welcome connecting flights from Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, or Antigua through a smaller, regional airline.
Prime Minister of Grenada Dr Keith Mitchell, as a result, eagerly welcomed this development.
“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,” he stated 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 six 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,” he added
Grenada recorded its first case of the coronavirus on March 22 and the Government subsequently declared a state of emergency and implemented curfews to stem the spread. As a result, international commercial traffic to the country was prohibited.
With the reopening just a few days away, the industry will have to adjust to new health protocols that the Government has provided. Already, three international hotels that will reopen before the year’s end have instituted in-house health and cleanliness protocols that are mandatory for the operating of the properties.
In fact, Sandals held a two-day workshop mid-month to share its cleanliness protocol with government officials, among other initiatives.
“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 [is] 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,” Modeste disclosed.
Come October 1, there will be a new health protocol that will work in tandem with the new Quarantine (Covid-19) regulations and the Public Health Act regulations.
At a recent news conference Health Minister Nickolas Steele announced that the Government was in the process of reviewing its entry protocol.
“What is even more heartwarming is that hundreds of our nationals are returning the work after six months.”Dr Keith Mitchell, prime Minister, Grenada
Presently, all arriving passengers from international cities must present a PCR-negative test result dated no less than seven days before entry. The cities of original departure will also determine the length of the quarantine stay.
In addition, tourists who visit attractions and any other facilities outside of the hotels must provide contact-tracing information.
And in relation to places of entertainment, the health protocol dictates that the size of the venue or the location of a social event will determine the number of persons allowed to attend.
To date, Grenada has confirmed 24 COVID-19 cases, all of whom have recovered. The last recorded positive Covid-19 case was in July 2020.
Despite ending the national curfew in June, the country’s health and law enforcement officials still maintain protocols that guide, among other things, receiving returning nationals through its ports of entry.