Tuesday 13 November, 2018

Boost in tourism marketing reaps big rewards for Grenada

Tourism is booming on the island of Grenada.

The southerly island is making a quiet noise on the tourism front, racking up awards and attention from international travellers.

In 2017 the island won the title of Best Caribbean Destination from the Caribbean Travel Journal and in January 2018, boasted a 30 percent increase in total arrivals over the same period last year with 100, 654 visitors. All visitor categories reflected an increase including Stay over (13, 815) up by 13 percent, Cruise (82,797) up by 37 percent and Yachting (4,042) up by 43 percent.

All of this is a result of the work being done by the Grenada Tourism Authority.

“The strategy is to market the destination,” said Patricia Maher, CEO of the GTA, during an interview with Loop. 

“Grenada is an amazing place, it has so much to offer the visitor. Our job is to market the destination and to spread the word and to share and let the world know what a fantastic place Grenada is. We like to emphasise that we are Pure Grenada, it is our brand. Pure because we are authentic, unspoilt, real Caribbean islands and, of course, there are the spices we are famous for.”

Maher was appointed CEO of the GTA in 2016 and under her watch, the organisation has ramped up its marketing activities.

A contingent from the GTA, as well as hoteliers, were in Trinidad recently to promote the island and all its activities.

“Pure Grenada has been around as a brand since 2014 and a lot of work was done on it but we said let’s elevate it, bring it to another level so we engaged a lot of international media. Last year we had four international media trips planned for the island for each quarter and they found amazing stories to write about. The Wall Street Journal voted Grenada as one of the top ten hot destinations to visit in the world. To crown it all off Expedia awarded us the Caribbean destination of the year 2017, we got the award in Puerto Rico in January this year,” said Maher, who worked as a destination manager for a German group of companies before going into Telecom.

Part of the GTA’s strategy is to attend as many events as possible that will help to push the brand.

“You have to be visible,” said Maher.

Among the events they have attended was the World Travel Market in London in 2017, ITB Berlin, the New York Times Travel Show, CHTA Marketplace in Puerto Rico, Boston Globe Show and the Telegraph Travel Show in London in the first two months of 2018.

To further aid its marketing strategy in one of its key markets, the United States, Canada and Caribbean, the GTA hired US-based public relations agency, Cheryl Andrews Marketing Communications (CAMC) to promote Grenada’s tourism offerings in the USA, Canada, and the Caribbean.

In a release, the GTA said CAMC will be responsible for reaching potential visitors through public relations and communications tactics including storyline development, media outreach, and the management of social media influencer and blogger partnerships. Support also includes social media listening and the evaluation of media and activities.

As a result of increased efforts to woo the US tourists, that market recorded the highest increase of 16 percent with 67,250 tourist arrivals to the destination positioning Pure Grenada at the top of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s (CTO) list of destinations with registered growth in 2017.

Other source markets that reported an increase in arrivals included Canada with a six percent increase (14,580), Germany, 21 percent increase (2,499) and the Caribbean, eight percent increase (27,113) with Trinidad and Tobago registering a 14 percent increase (15,692). The GTA implemented a year-round focus on T&T with new travel agent familiarisation trips, increased advertising and a destination focused presentation to the media and travel trade.

To accommodate the increase in visitors, Grenada is expanding its room stock.

“In the next two years, we will have 3000 certified room stock growth of over 32 percent. This is in response to the demand, said Maher.

The room stock will be bumped up with the opening of the Silversands Grenada hotel later this year. The hotel is the first hotel development on Grand Anse Beach in over 25 years.

Work is also progressing on the Kimpton, Kawana Bay, another hotel development on Grand Anse Beach, which will be open in 2019.

Grenada’s hotels range from the chic boutique hotels to the luxury accommodations of Sandals and Spice Beach Resort and the island offers a range of activities from diving around its world famous underwater sculpture park to its unique and authentic Carnival.

Asked if there are areas the GTA are looking to tap into, Maher said with 2018 being dubbed the year of wellness and rejuvenation, they could do a lot more into tapping into their natural products to entice those looking for that kind of retreat to come and rejuvenate.

Some Grenada events you don't want to miss:

The Pure Grenada Music Festival: April 13 to 15 featuring Chrisette Michele, Morgan Heritage and Allison Hinds.

9th Carriacou Maroon & String Band Music Festival: April 27 to 29

The Grenada Chocolate Festival: May 11 to 19. With four chocolate factories, Grenada is fast establishing itself as a Chocolate island with this event dedicated to all things sweet, savoury and satisfying about chocolate.

Carnival: August 4 to14

Grenada Drum Festival: July 6 to 15

Pure Grenada Dive Fest: October 3 to 6