The Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, the Honorable Minister Clarice Modeste-Curwen, and the Chairman of Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA), Brenda Hood, met with the Grenada Hotel & Tourism Association (GHTA) Board of Directors to discuss economic challenges facing the Grenadian hotel and tourism sector amid the global downturn in travel resulting from the Covid-19 outbreak.
An emergency board meeting was held on Tuesday, 17 March 2020 at Sandals Grenada Resort to discuss the current state of affairs. Forward bookings have ground to a virtual halt and cancellations are hitting the industry hard. Jerry Rappaport, President of the GTA, on behalf of the association, therefore, made an appeal to government for assistance. Some of the requests noted were for better communication from government, a moratorium on the collection of VAT, assistance to keep businesses afloat and to maintain staff. Another notable request was for government to approach banks on the deferment of mortgages and loans for both businesses and employees.
Other members echoed those concerns and expressed the urgency to alleviate the stress on both businesses and staff. Hoteliers are not only challenged by the looming VAT day but currently face dire cash flow stemming from the issuance of refunds due to cancellations. Many restaurants have already closed due to lack of tourists on the island.
Minister Modeste-Curwen said that the government is aware of the needs of the hotel and tourism sector and is actively engaged in addressing those concerns. These include:
- The issuance of both grants and loans to assist the hospitality and tourism sector
- An ongoing discussion with banks to defer mortgages and loans
- An ongoing discussion with the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to lessen the financial burden on staff
- The request to the Prime Minister for a moratorium on the collection of VAT
- The creation of a tourism committee for better information sharing
- The commencement of weekly meetings among the GHTA, GTA and Ministry of Tourism
The GHTA left the meeting with the resolve that a decision would be made addressing their concerns by the end of the week and that the public and private sector would continue to work closer together to navigate through this tumultuous economic crisis.