With the return of three international airlines to Grenada next month, there is every indication that October is set to be a turning point for the island’s tourism industry which, in March, went into hiatus because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“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” 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 guest comes the return of employment for many in the sector,” she added.
Grenada is already part of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) travel bubble and three smaller airlines provide connecting flights from Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines or Antigua. These international airlines are set to resume the weekly flights during the first eight days of October. However, Sandals which is an all-inclusive property will reopen on October 1.
“This is exciting news for Grenada. We look forward to the re-opening 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 said.
“What is even more heart-warming 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.
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 reduce staff.
Radisson, Sandals and Royalton are three international hotel brands operating in Grenada and they all have in-house health and cleanliness protocols that are mandatory for the operating of the properties. Sandals last weekend held a two-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 are allowed to leave quarantine facilities, the hotel guest now has to comply with the in house health protocols” explains Modeste as she points out that all hotel properties have in house protocols.
Radisson never closed its operation while Royalton is scheduled to reopen on November 29th.
At a recent news conference, Health Minister Nicholas Steele, said 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 the start of next month, 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 will be required providing contact tracing information. 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 March 22 and days later a state of emergency with a curfew was declared which literally placed in 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 itself began a new normal as Health and law enforcement officials began applying the new health protocols. Critical in that protocol was opening of the international airport to accept returning nationals.
Grenada’s currently has 24 recorded COVID cases all of whom have recovered. The last positive COVID was in July.