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T&T market for Grenadian tourism
For Trinidadians and Tobagonians, Grenada is no ordinary holiday destination. Familial, political and social connections run deep and a growing number of Trinis have been setting up business and even relocating to the country over recent years.
Just a 35-minute flight away, the Grenada mainland—the country is actually an archipelagic state also comprising Carriacou and Petite Martinique and a number of other small islets—has been able to shake off the tragic images of 1983 and 2004 when storms of two different types shook island resolve to the core. In 1983, a US-led invasion put an end to the bloody takeover of a revolutionary government under assassinated leader, Maurice Bishop and in 2004, Hurricane Ivan wreaked havoc causing overwhelming infrastructural loss.
Today, Trinis account for the lion’s share of Caribbean arrivals (close to 50 per cent) and some facilities are arranging things to make life easier for this close neighbour. Foreign minister, Nicholas Steele, said in an interview with T&T Guardian there has been a strengthening of the “friendship” and “bond” between the two countries. “We do have issues…all neighbours have issues,” he said, “whatever issues that we have we (will) quickly settle them.”
“I see Grenada’s relationship with Trinidad and Tobago in particular moving forward at an accelerated rate,” he said. Front Desk Supervisor at the Kalinago Beach Resort, Ginelle Nelson, a Diego Martin-bred Trini, says she is a first-hand witness to deepened relations between the two countries in recent years. In fact, Nelson made her way to Grenada, fresh out of the John Donaldson Technical Institute with qualifications as a chef, 13 years ago, eventually landing a job in the hotel industry.
Trinidadians, she says, are the resort’s biggest Caribbean client base. “I think it is because of the peacefulness of the area,” she says. The resort is located in the somewhat remote Morne Rouge area, one hilltop away from the famous Grand Anse Beach. Nearby Gem Beach Resort is a longstanding Trini favourite not only for nearby Club Fantazia but for the fact that the BBC Beach is up front as a national treasure alongside Grand Anse.
Gem becomes a virtual Trini village at Trinidad Carnival time and during the Easter and August vacations. Over at Kalinago, there is little evidence of the marginally more frenetic pace at Gem’s. The access road is a challenging, winding 70 degree drive. “We don’t have a gym,” Nelson says, “but we have a hill…which is good exercise.” At the bottom of the hill is the 29-room resort, including a breezy restaurant where the curry conch ranks high on the Caribbean scale of seafood offerings.
“Our strongest clients are direct persons coming in from Trinidad, Barbados and locals. Our biggest market so far is the immediate Caribbean…especially Trinidad,” says Nelson. As for marketing: “The most efficient way has been word of mouth,” she adds.
Economic advisor to the government of Grenada, Dr Patrick Antoine has been quoted as saying that the Keith Mitchell administration, which returned to power a year ago, was now placing “a very strong focus on new tourism” targeting dive tourism, yachting and cruise ships. However, from all accounts, word of mouth across the water in T&T appears to be providing one of the country’s more durable tourism streams.
Service at the immigration and customs counters appear starkly aware of the vital connection and, at Kalinago, which is only three years old, the Trini link is strong.