The tourism stakeholder association, Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association (GHTA), has called for an inquiry to find out why by the Grenada Board of Tourism (GBT) failed to hold an official welcoming ceremony when Sunwing Airlines made its inaugural flight to the island.
The Grenada Hotel & Tourism Association said it has written to Tourism Minister Glennis Roberts expressing its displeasure with the decision taken by the Grenada Board of Tourism to not officially welcome Sunwing Airline on its inaugural flight into the Maurice Bishop International Airport last week.
“It is inconceivable that the aircraft should have been kept in a circling pattern, for approximately thirty minutes, while the daily runway inspection was completed,” the letter, which was copied to a number of tourism related stakeholders and former Tourism Minister Peter David, stated. “Surely with all the hype preceding this flight, someone somewhere, must have been informed of its scheduled arrival time, and one would expect that someone would have ensured that the runway was made ready for landing thus eliminating a delay.”
Head of Marketing at the GBT, Ms. Raylene Lazarus, said there was no official welcome because of the early 5:20am arrival of the flight and the failure by the Aviation Services of Grenada to arrange the event.
But clarifying its position, Aviation Services of Grenada (ASG Ltd) said in a news release on Friday evening that the explanation provided by the Grenada Board of Tourism regarding the inaugural flight of Sunwing Airlines into Grenada on Tuesday, November 24th, 2009 was incorrect. “ASG Ltd., has been contracted by Sunwing Airlines to perform the ground handling of its flights into Grenada – This entails the offloading and loading of aircraft and the checking in of passengers for the flight. We are therefore not ‘agents’ for the airline,” it said in a statement, which also pointed out that the company has never been engaged in the welcoming of any airline into Grenada as this responsibility falls on the GBT in conjunction with other stakeholders.
In its letter, the GHTA said that they find the reason given for the failure to afford the arrival of this flight the official welcome is rather lame. “If the staff of the GBT felt that, rising from their beds at such an early hour in order to meet and greet the flight was outside the realms of their capabilities, they need only have asked and they would have had many persons in the private sector offering to carry out their duties for them,” the letter stated.
The issue has become a hotly debated issue in Grenada not only among tourism stakeholders but with the general public who felt that the presence of two officials of the Grenada Board of Tourism in the departure lounge of the airport at the time of arrival, waiting to enjoy complimentary seats to Toronto on the return flight of the same airline, should have engage in the welcoming of the officials to Grenada.
Recommending that there be some form of inquiry into the debacle, the GHTA in its letter said that it feels most strongly that there is need to have a professional level of accountability. “Without this, we will continue to be seen as mediocre in an industry which requires perfection at the highest level. With power comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes accountability,” said the letter, which called on the minister to consider what is a fitting redress for a fiasco such as the non-event of this inaugural flight.
Sunwing Airlines is scheduled to make weekly flights to Grenada from Toronto during the winter season and twice weekly during the summer season.