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The Grenada Tourism Authority is encouraging travellers to give a little bit back to the scenic destination during their next holiday.
Whether it’s monitoring leatherback sea turtles during hatchling season, taking part in marine conservation efforts for an artificial reef regeneration project or embarking on beach clean ups, visitors can now choose from a variety of voluntourism projects across the tri-island nation.
“We believe that people who visit want to get close to the community but also in terms of the travel trend, people really want to give back,” Petra Roach, the CEO of the Grenada Tourism Authority tells Travel Courier. “We put together 19 programs, initiatives that people can get involved with, on island, things that were already in existence, but under the same umbrella. It’s a very wide cross section of things that people can do in terms of giving back. They can do beach cleanups, they can plant coral, they can plant trees in a mangrove.”
The GTA is also promoting the concept of sustainability and conservation to the next generation.
“We’re doing the beach cleanups, communicating through the schools about the need to keep Grenada green and clean,” she says. “It’s that communication with the younger generation, making them adopt a sense of responsibility about it, because climate change is real. And ultimately, the reason that people come to our shores is because of the beautiful natural resources.”
Along the same conservation lines, Roach says there’s also been a shift in mindset amongst Grenadians to preserve and protect the natural wonders of the islands for themselves and visitors.
“We have to be kind and caring to each other first, keep our parks and beaches and everything pristine, and then visitors can also enjoy it, and that is really important that we stand proud and protective over our local assets,” she says.
During a recent group visit with tour operators, Roach says she joined travel professionals in planting trees in the botanical garden.
“As a company, we don’t have single use plastics anywhere, everybody’s got their Grenada mugs, which they refill,” she notes. “I know that sustainability is something that everybody talks about. But if you look at the audit of our product, 20% of the island is actually allocated to marine protected areas.”
Beyond environmental initiatives, efforts are also underway to foster local talent and career development across the local population.
“It’s not just about looking at people coming into the business and they start off as a waiter and they end up as a waiter 30 years later,” she says. “No, what we’re trying to do is ensure that they’re equipped with training opportunities and also entrepreneurial opportunities that they can then become their own bosses, have their own businesses. So training is core to everything that we’re doing.”
Meanwhile, Roach says the focus on sustainability continues to grow across tourism sectors and beyond.
For example, Grenada’s popular Pure Grenada Dive Fest was rebranded to the Dive & Conservation Festival this year to introduce conservation conversations.
“We brought together the local experts along with external experts and had thought provoking topics that people have different perspectives on and then came up with solutions, which were communicated to the future generations so that they too can also have this sense of responsibility that they have to be protective of these natural assets that we’ve got and that they have to be advocates of being good global citizens. So we’re really proud of the work that we’re doing in that sphere.”
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