ST GEORGE’S, Grenada -- The Grenada government, which was elected to office with an 11 - 4 parliamentary majority in 2008, has been accused of failing to deliver to the Grenadian people.
Simon Stiell, a former director of the Grenada Board of Tourism (GBT), said the failure is manifested not just in tourism but also in other sectors of the country.
“All I see is wasted opportunities and gross mismanagement taking place throughout our nation today,” Stiell said in an open letter made available to the media.
“As a concerned patriot,” he explained, “I can no longer remain silent when I see Grenada’s performance relative to our Caribbean neighbours plummet, whether that is in the specific area of tourism, or the wider areas of economic development, health care, education, social welfare, the list is almost endless. Grenada has the potential to do far better. Grenadians deserve far better.”
Stiell was hired as GBT director in November 2010 but resigned this past June.
In taking up the position, Stiell said he was “motivated by the opportunity to institute the critical changes required to transform the GBT from its current state into a more effective and productive organisation”.
Among the changes that were agreed to and adopted by government last November was instituting a Tourism Authority to replace the GBT as part of what was described as a “results-oriented” strategic plan.
Another proposal called for the establishment of a tourism strategy implementation body that would have been responsible for the execution and delivery of the plan.
Stiell claims that lack of “political will” stalled the completion of the tourism restructuring plan.
“The excuses given were weak and unrepresentative of the considered measures that had been put in place that would have lead to the successful restructuring,” he said.
“In my opinion, the actions of the government in this matter were highly questionable and completely undermined the integrity of the restructuring process and all of those involved in its implementation. Support must be measured in terms of positive actions, actions that go beyond paying mere lip service. Without the political will and support to do what was necessary to transform Grenada’s tourism sector, I was left with no other choice but to resign.”
Meanwhile, Grenada’s 2012/2013 cruise ship season begins next Thursday, October 25.
Tour operators, taxi drivers and other tourism stakeholders are hoping that the season will boost income for them in a sector that has been reeling from the impact of the global economic crisis.
On Monday, La Source Resort – which employed about 200 workers – ceased operations. Other hotels have had to reduce the working hours of staff.
As well, some Grenadians who depend on the cruise industry for a livelihood may not be able to ply their trade this year.
Many vendors who rent GBT booths to sell spices and other souvenirs in the courtyard of the Esplanade Mall in St George’s are reported to be in arrears of payment to the Board of Tourism.
The board is said to be insisting that vendor pay all outstanding sums or permission will not be granted to use the booths.
Former tourism minister Peter David said he empathizes with the vendors and plans on meeting with them.
“I have spoken to some of the vendors who are agonizing over what they are going to do as a means of livelihood without access to the booths,” said David, who resigned as tourism minister in April.
“None has expressed an unwillingness to pay the board. Like most of us, they simply have no way of forking up a huge lump sum of money to pay what they owe immediately. We must try and find a way to work with them, to help, in this hard economic time.”