Travel Agent was able to secure the first interview with newly appointed CEO of the Grenada Tourism Authority, Patricia Maher, on Wednesday and got to pick her brain about the future of Grenada, what markets to pitch the destination to and just how much companies like Sandals Resorts International and JetBlue Airways have paved the way for tourism success on the island.
Maher, who officially took over the role on December 19, succeeds former CEO Rudy Grant, who was recently appointed as the new CEO of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association. Maher is a former country manager for Digicel Grenada Limited, and has previously served as general manager for Go Caribic Tours and destination manager for the German LTU Group of Companies.
Here are the highlights of our Q&A interview with Maher:
What is your main goal in this important role?
“I have the same goal that the Grenada Tourism Authority has and that is to continue to create unique products in Grenada, to continue to grow a niche product there and to, of course, increase visitor arrivals, stay-overs and cruise arrivals. I would love to see those numbers grow as high as they can grow because Grenada truly has tremendous potential.”
What hotel product can clients expect in Grenada?
“Grenada is a mixed spot as far as markets go. As far as product, it has something for everyone. We have the luxury all-inclusive market and we also have a lot of other three-, four- and five-star properties on the island for people to enjoy. That is something we work for. We want to be something for everybody.”
What markets should agents be targeting when pitching Grenada?
“I would say we are getting more of an older clientele, around 40-plus, but we would like to get more Millennials to Grenada in the future. We want a broad outreach. Through research I’ve done on the Millennial market, I know that that they are always looking for a unique experience. They value authentic experiences. Well, we have the destination for them. This is a place where you can connect with the people. The people of Grenada are the warmest, friendliest people in the Caribbean.
“The nice thing is the minute you leave hotel and go out on the street, all of those moments are special. Don’t get me wrong, being at the craft market or at St. George's (Grenada's scenic capital) is great too. I’m not saying we don’t have very lovely attractions. But to add to that beauty is the ability to move about freely and safely and connect with locals everywhere you go. The locals simply love to engage with the visitors and that is potentially what could attract more Millennials.”
Has Zika hurt Grenada at all?
"No, we were fortunate that we didn’t have anything really serious to report. It basically came and went without any imprint, so we are lucky for that in that respect."
How have companies like Sandals and JetBlue helped Grenada tourism recently?
“Sandals and JetBlue have had a major impact on tourism and just putting Grenada on the map. We are very excited to have both of them. They are not just expanding here. They are growing here. It’s nice to see someone not only expand, but to grow the product, to invest here. Sandals was welcomed here the moment they announced they were expanding here. All of the hotels welcomed it because they knew it would lead to improved airlift.”