For Grenada, tourism is a huge part of their economy, contributing over US$ 600 million to the economy.  Currently, over 500,000 tourists visit Grenada annually, which accounts for 45% of all visitors to the country.  Grenada’s Tourism Plan is aimed at maintaining this level of tourism, by developing new products and better marketing strategies.  The plan also hopes to boost the country’s image as a tourist destination, especially in the Caribbean region.

Tourism is the lifeblood of our country, and the Grenada Tourism Authority has launched its new Green Tourism Growth Plan to secure an even brighter future for the sector. The new plan, which will be implemented over the next three years, is designed to ensure that our small island continues to grow as a tourist destination, while at the same time maintaining its natural beauty and allowing it to continue to be a clean and green place to live.

The tourism industry is one of the most important and dynamic sectors of the economy and has a large and far-reaching impact on the lives of the people and the local and national economies of any country.

Petra Roach, a veteran Barbados tourism marketer, was named chief executive officer of the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) in April, making her one of the most high-profile Caribbean travel sector personnel changes in the last year.

Roach was a well-known Caribbean marketer whose hallmark projects included collaborations with the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Greenwich Polo Club to attract active, high-income visitors.

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Roach is facing fresh difficulties in Grenada, as the southern Caribbean archipelago strives to re-establish itself as an island endowed with superlative natural beauty, fascinating customs, and a plethora of historic and cultural attractions.

We talked with Roach this week to get her thoughts on Grenada tourism’s current and future under her leadership.

Grenada Tourism Authority CEO “It’s all about getting out of the hotel and seeing our pristine and breathtaking scenery.” — CEO of the Grenada Tourism Authority, Petra Roach

(TP): The epidemic forced every Caribbean nation that relies on tourism to properly prepare for tourist activity once it reopened. What has changed in Grenada’s tourist program in the last year?

Petra Roach (PR): We took a step back and considered who our client was, and we realized that the person who was coming to Grenada would not be the same person who was going to the Dominican Republic or, say, Jamaica, since we are a tiny island with just 134.6 square miles and 112,000 inhabitants.

It’s all about getting out of the hotel and experiencing our pristine and beautiful landscape, as well as going on adventures that bring you closer to nature – from the beach to diving at our underwater sculpture museum, to the mountains, where you can breathe fresh clean air, hike through waterfalls, kayak, and river tube. With just 2,200 rooms throughout the island and a broad range of boutique establishments, our hotel offering is also very distinctive.

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TP: How do Grenada’s natural features and activities meet the needs of today’s travelers?

PR: When you look at Grenada, you can see that it has a lot of wonderful natural features. People conceive of an island as a single destination, although Petit Martinique and Carriacou are also available. We have marine protected areas on 20% of our islands, so you’re dealing with a [archipelago] where conservation is critical.

As a result, we can appeal to groups such as wellness travelers, those interested in sustainability and eco-tourism, and those looking for a way to delve deeper into themselves and have a good, therapeutic experience.

TP: Are there any additional characteristics of Grenada that appeal to particular tourist groups?

PR: Culinary is always on people’s minds when they travel, and one of the other things we saw is that after the epidemic, people want to know where their food comes from. Grenada has a really unique offer in that they actually claim you can put a pencil in the dirt and it will grow.

Second, Grenada is a very safe location, making it particularly attractive to female and lone visitors. We’ll be releasing a new promise to remind tourists that the island is a valuable resource for us, and we want people to think carefully about how they interact with nature when they come. We wish to make certain that they assist in the preservation of the island in the manner that it requires.

TP: Do you have any more projects in the works to promote local resources and culture?

PR: We’re putting a lot of pressure on our restaurants to source at least 90% of their food locally. Second, we are in the midst of establishing a voluntourism program that will include activities such as teaching children to swim, planting trees in the mangroves, and other ways for tourists to contribute. It’s all about the creation of shared experiences and information that is passed down through and into our community.

We’ve also rethought some of our plans, so the diving festival for next year will be renamed the Dive and Conservation Festival, recognizing that these are limited resources and that we must be vigilant.

TP: How did the epidemic affect the tourist industry and infrastructure in the country?

PR: Because tourism accounts for 40% of Grenada’s GDP, nearly everyone in the nation was affected by the epidemic, not just those who work in the industry. Many employees had their hours cut down, putting a strain on their finances, so we’re glad to see the nation reopened and the sector get back on its feet. We are laser-focused on ensuring that safety measures are in place to guarantee the future prosperity of our island.

TP: How would you characterize your approach to the travel retail industry?

PR: We want to collaborate with operators that share our values, since who you play with reflects who you are as a person. As a destination, we wish to work with organizations that place responsible tourism at the heart of their mission. We are not and will never be a mass tourist destination, therefore we want to collaborate with organizations and operators that share our fundamental beliefs and strengths. We want to be thought of as a valuable partner.

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