GRENADA PASSES THE SMELL TEST
Grenada smells good. Whether it’s the nutmeg, cocoa, cinnamon, or any of the other spices native to the island – or perhaps all of them together – the Caribbean island is clearly a special place, right from the first whiff.
Indeed, the so-called “Spice Island” (and its siblings, notably Carriacou), is even looking to patent its unique, fabulous fragrance, reveals Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) CEO Petra Roach.
But until then, Canadians will just have to go and sniff in person, she laughed to Travel Industry Today.
Fortunately, that will be a lot easier to accomplish with news last week that Air Canada will resume non-stop flights to the island – located at the southern end of Grenadines chain in the West Indies – beginning this fall.
While Canadians continued to visit in substantial numbers even after the direct service was halted in January (many connecting through nearby Barbados), the interruption definitely “created a dent in our numbers,” says Roach.
To that end the CEO, accompanied by the GTA’s director of sales for Canada, Sekou Stroude, visited suppliers in Toronto earlier this month, culminating in the planned resumption of twice-weekly Air Canada flights (on Sundays and Thursdays) from Toronto Pearson starting Oct. 30.
“The news on the service to Grenada is welcome as the destination is pacing ahead of 2019 numbers and group business is up 37%,” stated Diana Rodriguez, Product Director at Air Canada Vacations.
Canada has always been a critical market for Grenada, says Roach, ranking in the top 3 and with visitors staying an average of 10 days.
Moreover, she says Canadians are inclined to leave their resorts and explore the island, eat at its restaurants, visit the spice markets, and generally ensure that their presence is felt across the island and in the community.
Tourism minister Clarice Modeste-Curwen, adds, “Canada is recognized as one of the most important tourism generating markets in the world with 41% of Canadians choosing beach destinations…This market has continued to grow over the years and delivers a great return on investment.”
Roach, who hopes that other Canadian airlines will join Air Canada in returning to Grenada, notes that Canadian visitors to the island tend to skew a little bit older, in the 45-64 range, as well as towards families and couples. But she says the GTA is working to gain a greater presence with millennials, who make up about 20% of visitors.
It shouldn’t be a hard sell, she adds, with a host of soft adventure activities on-island, and off, ranging from hiking and four-wheel drive excursions to water sports and diving, the latter amongst the world’s best, featuring wrecks, real and artificial reefs, and an underwater sculpture park. There are also unique activities like young chef and mixology courses.
Grenada’s beaches – especially renowned 3-km white sand Grand Anse – constantly receive accolades. And the colourful capital, St. Georges, is the island’s dynamic cultural centre.
However, the greatest draw for tiny Grenada – only 33 km long – is the “closeness” visitors feel to nature, believes Roach.
Verdant and green, covered in rainforest and waterfalls, the island “is the quintessence of pure nature,” she says. “Here you can just step back; there’s a simplicity in life that is refreshing. It’s like you breath deeply, and you imperceptibly slow down.”
As such, nature touches almost everything in the islands, from the food, which includes an abundance of uncommonly sweet fruits, like mangoes, papayas, and citrus, to farm and fishing to table.
There is also rum, chocolate, and, of course, the spices.
Naturally, wellness is central theme, from hiking in spectacular natural settings to yoga on the beach.
“Grenada is a place where people want to escape and recalibrate,” Roach enthuses.
As for accommodation, the all-inclusive Royalton Grenada, tends to top the list for Canadians, capturing about 30% of the market; while another 15% opt for Sandals, she says.
Other popular retreats among the “plethora of lodging options” include the 64-suite five-star all-inclusive Spice Island Beach Resort, and other boutique properties, such as Mount Cinnamon, Coyaba Beach Resort, 437, Silversands, and Laluna.
As for COVID, Grenada recently rescinded its entry protocols making it easier for travellers to reach the destination. Both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers arriving into Grenada no longer need to take any COVID-19 tests prior to arrival or upon arrival, fill out health declaration forms, or quarantine on arrival.
Additionally, Roach says, the island is “very, very safe!”
In sum, she declares, “Grenada is like the last authentic island in the Caribbean.”
First published at Travel Industry Today