Grenada Tourism Minister: Visitors “Want More of Our History”

Above: Grenada (CJ Photo)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

The critical tourism issue in Grenada is getting visitors to spend more money during their stays, according to Tourism Minister Senator Dr George Vincent, and safeguarding the country’s intangible cultural heritage is one way to solve that problem.

“What is happening in Grenada is that we are seeing a reduction in spending by visitors, particularly cruise visitors, and that is so because we are not sufficiently emphasizing our uniqueness,” he said this week at a UNESCO-sponsored youth forum.

The problem is not unique to Grenada, however, he said. Throughout the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, visitors are exposed to souvenirs made in developed nations. That, he said, is not inkeeping with marketing the destination through its cultural heritage.

“We are getting modern, but our visitors want more of our history … our Maroon and String band festivals and souvenirs that reflect our past, our culture and our heritage,” he said.

“We want to emphasize the importance of our heritage — what comes out of our creole, our designs and production to make sure our traditions remain and use it to go forward,” he said.

He urged the young participants at the UNESCO Caribbean Youth Forum on Intangible Cultural Heritage to reach out to Grenada’s older generations to record, research and preserve their stories.

UNESCO defines intangible cultural heritage as including oral traditions and expressions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe and traditional craftsmanship.

“Go back to the villages and find the oral rituals and traditions that we need to take the industry, our history and our culture forward, so that we can educate our children and grandchildren so that what they learned can be skillfully used to create designs that are unique to us,” he said. “It is the only way that we can develop our craft and souvenirs industry.”