By Lincoln Depradine
The Grenadian government is considering initiatives to attract “bona fide” investors to the country and generate greater employment opportunities.
The initiatives were revealed Tuesday during the unveiling of a new strategic plan for taking Grenada’s tourism industry to a higher level.
The plan was developed after months of consultations involving ministry and Grenada Board of Tourism officials, taxi drivers, tour operators and other tourism interest groups.
“We have listened with interest to the proposal for an Investment incentive package for qualified applicants,’’ Tourism Minister Peter David told the conference.
“One component of the proposed package recommends that the government set up a 30-day guarantee on Alien Landholding Licences,” David said. “This means that an applicant for a licence will get an answer within 30 days. That answer either should be licence granted, licence denied or we have queries on your application and we need you to answer the following questions.’’
Close to three hundred people attended the conference at the Grenada Trade Centre in Morne Rouge, St George’s, including Grenadian Prime Minister Tillman Thomas; Barbadian Tourism Minister Richard Sealy and St Kitts and Nevis Tourism Minister Ricky Skeritt, who is chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.
During consultations to formulate the tourism strategic plan, suggestions were made on giving special consideration for citizenship “to persons who are actually investing in the country,’’ David said.
“This investment by bona fide investors must be sizeable,’’ he said. “It must come with certain conditions based on size of investment, numbers of Grenadians employed by the investor and the overall impact on the economy of the investment.’’
In addition recognition is given under the plan of “the need to attract capital into Grenada for the purpose of infrastructure development, in particular for the expansion of our hotel room stock. With just over 1500 rooms, it is necessary to expand that sector. For this purpose it was the view that government needs to come up with creative strategies to attract investors.’’
One of the proposals to help lure investors and more tourists to the country is to set up a Tourism Ambassadors’ Programme, which David described as “an inexpensive way of marketing this island.’’
The aim of the program, he explained, would be for the appointed ambassadors “to use their vast network and influence to facilitate investment into Grenada and also find opportunities for Grenadian goods and services on the international market.’’
Several ideas are being examined on a list of priorities for more efficient and targeted marketing of Grenada.
“These include the use of prominent Grenadians such as Kirani James, Rondell Bartholomew, Jason Roberts and Johnson Beharry as spokespersons in effectively marketing Grenada to the world,’’ David said.
In his conference address, the minister emphasized the importance of tourism to Grenada’s economy and its impact on other sectors of the society.
He said statistics on tourism’s impact usually focuse on the direct effect on tourism industry players such as hotels and restaurants.
What is often not measured is tourism’s “indirect economic contribution’’ to farmers, the electricity company, telephone companies, banks, supermarkets, the National Water and Sewage Authority, taxi tour operators, and market and spice vendors, he said.