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Local tour guides to receive international certification

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by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada

  • 45 tour guides begin training to become internationally certified
  • Online training course is followed by written exam and video component

On Monday, 45 of Grenada’s cruise industry’s top tour guides began training to become internationally certified under the Aquila Tour Guide Excellence training programme.

The training programmes are offered by the Aquila Centre for Cruise Excellence to help cruise destinations and tour operators around the world achieve excellence in their ports, tours, guides, and businesses.

Aquila representative, Claudine Pohl is a specialist in the field and will be conducting the training in Grenada over the next 4 days. She stated the programme teaches critical skills, from presentation skills to the logistics of conducting a tour, to dealing with difficult situations and managing risk. “We are going to go through six different areas; anywhere from understanding the cruise industry to understanding what it takes to become a good tour guide and how to go above and beyond and how to find those moments to engage with your guest and create magical moments for guest. Also, we will be talking about how to prepare so that you can prevent things from happening and last, we will be talking about risk management because that’s so important,” said Pohl.

The programme is an online course followed by a full assessment which includes a written exam and a video component. Tour guides will undergo a six-component training after which they will sit an exam. To obtain certification, a passing grade of 70% on both the written and video components is required.

“It’s going to be 4 days; 3 days of learning, 6 lessons and then on the last day we are going to be doing a certification… the exams are 80 questions and they need a pass mark of 70%. The second part will be a video portion because writing an exam will only tell you so much, but the video will tell you what kind of tour guide is this? Is this a good tour guide? We will evaluate that,” Pohl said.

Patricia Maher, CEO, Grenada Tourism Authority’s (GTA) reiterated the importance of having world-class tour operators to promote the advancement of the local travel industry. “The tour guide can either make or break an experience. Today’s visitors are looking for immersive experiences. People are not even saying the word tour any more, they are saying experiences — and there are not just experiences, but immersive experiences — this is what the visitor is looking for from us in the destination, and I know we here in Grenada have a lot to offer our visitors.”

Nikoyan Roberts, Manager, Nautical Development at GTA spoke on behalf of the Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation, Hon. Clarice Modeste Curwen who welcomed the training. “This training provided by the Grenada Tourism Authority and Aquila could not come at a better time following historic growth in 2018, the destination cruise arrival figures for the first half of 2019 are 1.33 % ahead of last year. Indeed, we are grateful for the continued growth and we all have our role to play in ensuring it continues.”

Aquila Centre for Cruise Excellence and Tour Guide Training is a tour operator company located in New Brunswick, Canada with over 35 years of experience in the travel industry, and almost 30 years of providing shore excursions to cruise lines and their passengers. They are the official training partner of the Florida Cruise Caribbean Association (FCCA).

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Caribbean & World

All medication for USNS Comfort clinics is FDA approved

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by Linda Straker

  • Medication used at free clinics is approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • FDA is the US Federal agency responsible for protecting the public health
  • More than 40,000 persons have received clinic services and more than 600 surgeries performed

Patrick Amerbach, Chief Medical Officer onboard the US Naval Ship Comfort which will be in Grenada until 20 September, has assured that all medication used at the free clinics is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Everything we are using here is FDA approved. Everything that we do here is of a quality standard as done in the US healthcare system,” Amerbach said on Sunday following the opening ceremony to welcome the hospital ship to the island.

The FDA is the US Federal agency responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices as well as ensuring the safety of food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.

The ship with its 956 medical staff is on a five-month multinational medical assistance mission and at its completion will have made 14 port calls in 12 countries throughout South and Central America and the Caribbean, including the three OECS territories of Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Saint Kitts.

Besides the surgeries that will be done onboard the ship, doctors from the ship will be holding daily clinics at the National Stadium and at the Grenada Trade Centre. They will be offering healthcare in several areas including wound care, urology, orthopaedic, eye care and general surgery.

Acting Health Minister, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell described the initiatives as one that will have a powerful positive effect on the healthcare system and at the same time strengthen the relationship between the countries who will benefit and the USA.

“This initiative is a very strong partnership for the people of the region. The impact of this initiative is something that Grenadians will feel for a long time,” he said as he welcomed the US delegation, the ship and the crew members.

Acting Health Minister, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell speaks during the welcoming ceremony for the USNS Comfort

Referring to social media fearmongering that the USNS Comfort will be engaging in clinical research without permission from patients, Dr Mitchell said that people are always sceptic about certain initiatives, but he is satisfied that the services onboard the ship is of a high acceptable medical standard. “If I did not recently do my own medical check-up, I will certainly do it now,” he said, encouraging Grenadians to take advantage of the opportunity.

Linda Taglialatela, US Ambassador to the OECS described the initiative as a celebration. “Today we celebrate the strength of our relationship,” she said, disclosing that thousands of persons in the region have received the services of the ship.

Ship’s Captain Brian J Diebold said that more than 40,000 persons have received services at the clinics and there were more than 600 surgeries, with gall bladder and cataract as the most common.

Dr George Mitchell, Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health said that the services from the ship are providing an opportunity for many who were seeking simple surgery, to receive it at a quicker time. “Citizens sometimes have to wait months to get the service at the hospital,” he said without naming specific medical surgeries.

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Public workers to vote for new First Vice President in special election

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by Linda Straker

  • Devon Francis resigned as 1st Vice President on 18 June
  • Public Workers Union will be voting in a special election on Wednesday, 18 September
  • Approximately 3,000 public workers are qualified to vote

The membership of the Public Workers Union (PWU) will be voting in a special election on Wednesday, 18 September because a member of the executive council who was elected during the March 2019 Annual General Meeting has resigned.

Daisy Hazzard, Public Relations Officer for the union said that Devon Francis who was elected to serve as the 1st Vice President resigned from the post as of 18 June 2019. “Therefore, this special meeting and election, which is in accordance with the union’s constitution, is to fill the post which is now vacant,” she said. She explained that Francis, who is a medical doctor by profession, had given “personal matters” as his reason for resigning after serving for less than four months.

Approximately 3,000 public workers are qualified to vote in the election which will be held at the union’s headquarters in Tanteen. Nomination will be done on the day of the special meeting and the person elected will serve for the period 2019 – 2021.

Hazzard also confirmed that since the new executive was elected, several shop stewards have resigned. “That we have dealt with internally as an executive council, but we must come back to the general membership to fill the vacant executive council post. There is no other option,” she said.

In March, Rachel Roberts was re-elected to serve as the union’s president for the period 2019 – 2021. Most of the other members elected to that executive had openly campaigned for another person to serve as president.

It is understood that Roberts and her executive members are not always in agreement about making decisions that are in the best interest of union and its members, and as a result, there is growing uneasiness among the executive.

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Grenada Cabinet to implement new cabinet procedure

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by Linda Straker

  • New cabinet procedures to be implemented as part of public sector reform project
  • Manual approved by cabinet in June 2019

As part of the public sector reform project, Grenada’s cabinet will be implementing new cabinet procedures which, among other things, will make the weekly meeting of the cabinet of ministers more strategic with less time on routine matters.

“This manual allows more time for in-depth discussion and how to focus on major priorities,” Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell told participants during the first training workshop which exposed ministers of government, permanent secretaries and other senior public officers to the templates of the manual.

Dr Mitchell said that one of the shortcomings identified is following up of decisions made by the Cabinet of Ministers, but the implementation of the new procedures is expected to not only reduce the problem but to make it a thing of the past.

“Sometimes decisions are made and when you ask for a follow up there is a fight to find out the state of it,” the Prime Minister said, explaining that the new procedure will include a summary of an implementation plan, because many times decisions are made and implementation plans are not included. “Hopefully this manual will make a stronger cabinet secretariat which is the oxygen where cabinet decisions are made,” he said, promising to ensure a stronger secretariat.

Head of the Cabinet Secretariat, Beryl Isaac, told the participants that they should see the new procedures as the secretariat bible. “Not implementing the manual is not an option, this manual has to be our bible,” she said, reminding them that different results will not be achieved if the same format is continually used. “If we want to see a different result, we must do things differently,” she said.

Besides providing for less time on routine discussion, the main feature of the manual which was approved by cabinet in June 2019, includes a new process for proposed legislation with policy objectives and main features agreed by cabinet before laws are drafted. It revises the submission template and provides a summary implementation plan for all complex proposals.

It also provides for more consultation between ministries in preparing proposals for cabinet; more explicit engagement with local and international partners in developing policy proposals and a stronger cabinet office to better support ministers to comply with the procedures in the manual.

The new procedures were developed following a review of Grenada’s cabinet processes by Dr Mark Johnston, an experienced cabinet advisor from the World Bank. The cabinet secretariat will hold other workshops during September and October, before a date of effect is announced for implementing the new procedures.

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