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A call for better coordination between agriculture and tourism

With no official allocation for agriculture on the new Board of the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA), the Senator representing the farming and fishing sectors is calling for better coordination between the tourism sector and the people he represents.

“Our farmers and fisherfolk are disappointed by the fact that Government has appointed an 11-member board of GTA without representation from the agriculture and fisheries sector,” Senator Roderick St Clair said in a November 23 press statement.

St Clair pointed out that the appointment of this Board on November 01, 2020 took place after the Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation during her message to mark Tourism Awareness Month (November) called for deep connections and deepened bonds with agriculture.

Hon Clarice Modeste-Curwen said “Tourism has deep connections with other critical sectors such as Agriculture, energy, fisheries, entertainment and craft. The synergy between Agriculture and Tourism means that local farmers can increase their production of fresh produce to supply the Food and Beverage and Accommodation sectors. In the midst of the pandemic, some farmers, fishermen and vendors reported sustaining significant losses when hotels were closed. In the future, I would like to see the bonds between these two sectors deepen as we seek to provide healthy, fresh foods to our residents and visitors.”

Senator St Clair informed that with the exception of Dominica, no CARICOM member country has a formal agro-tourism policy or includes an agriculture representative on the tourism authority.

Thus, he noted that at a September 2019 workshop in Grenada to develop its agro-tourism policy, Hon Modeste-Curwen was reported as explaining that “the marrying of the two sectors (tourism and agriculture) will not only provide benefits for farmers and fisherfolks, but will also be beneficial for the development of the tourism product.”

According to Senator St Clair, “Food represents roughly 30% of the total tourist expenditure, which implies that there is vast potential for farmers and fisherfolk in Grenada Carriacou and Petite Martinique to benefit if there is inclusiveness at the highest tables in the agro-tourism value chain. Deepening the connection and bonds means being part of the team that matters and getting to contribute live and first-hand at the policy level. It doesn’t mean sitting on the bench and cheering from the side as bystanders.”

Hon Modeste-Curwen told The Grenadian Voice that while the GTA board has the maximum number of persons allocated, discussions are underway to establish sub committees to represent other stakeholders. She added that there are persons directly and indirectly involved in the tourism industry but all cannot be on the board, noting that farmers and fisher folk who export produce are represented on the Airlift committee. 

Meanwhile the new GTA board, tasked to build and execute a revamped tourism framework that will competitively position Pure Grenada with target audiences, will be chaired by tourism developer and entrepreneur – Barry Collymore.

A news release from the GTA, quotes Minister Modeste as saying, “I wish to congratulate the Chairman and his team on their new position as Directors of the GTA. The entire executive body not only represents all of Pure Grenada’s key industry sectors, but also brings a wealth of experience in the tourism industry and knowledge of the Pure Grenada product to the table. I am confident that they will be able to tackle the job at hand as we look to once again bring our industry back to a place of sustainability.”

The other directors appointed to the GTA’s board are:

Lyden Ramdhanny, Deputy Chairman

Desiree Stephen, Permanent Secretary, Ministry Tourism and Civil Aviation Climate

Resilience and the Environment

Nicholas George, Grenada Chamber of Commerce

Karen Stiell, Yachting and Marine Sector

Adele Garbutt, Hospitality Sector

Dr Charles Modica, St George’s University

Lotten Haagman, Small hotels and Community Tourism

Marielle Alexander, Tour Operators Representative

Fabian Rock, Carriacou and Petite Martinique Representative

The GTA release quotes Chairman Collymore as saying, “The Grenada Tourism Authority is being asked to restart an Industry which has been crippled by the pandemic. The challenge before us could not be greater, and there is a need for a well coordinated, innovative and thoughtful plan. For the sake of all tourism workers and their families who have been affected by this pandemic, and our guests who can no longer travel, we have to ensure that our plan is executed flawlessly.”

Though the new board has not officially met, Collymore said, “As one of our first orders of business, the Board has decided to restructure so Directors serve on a volunteer basis for their respective terms. This shows not only a commitment to the task at hand, but a message of solidarity to everyone in the sector affected by this crisis. We will prevail and come out stronger. Our protocols instituted by the Ministry of Health, have kept case rates in Grenada extremely low and this will ensure an even faster rebound for the sector.”

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