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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

Public debt receives EC$354,018,921 – largest allocation in 2020 Budget 

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by Linda Straker

  • Grenada’s 2020 Estimate of Revenue and Expenditure is set at EC$1,146,010,705
  • Public Debt repayment receives largest allocation
  • Fiscal position continues to be strong, with expected primary surplus after grants of 6.8% of GDP, at end of 2019

Grenada’s 2020 Estimate of Revenue and Expenditure is set at EC$1,146,010,705 with the largest allocation of EC$354,018,921 going toward Public Debt repayment which, by the end of 2019 is estimated to be 55.8% of GDP.

The estimates were presented in the house on Wednesday, 20 November 2019 by Finance Minister, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell. Members in the House of Representatives are expected to commence debate on the budget on Thursday, 21 November 2019.

Receiving the second-largest allocation is the Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development, Religious Affairs and Information in the sum of EC$105,022,091 while the third-largest allocation went to the Ministry of Health, Social Security and International Business in the sum of EC$72,155,371.

Presented under the theme “Towards Vision 2035, Empowering our communities, Growing our economy, Protecting our environment, Strengthening our institution,” the Prime Minister said that Grenada is expected to continue its strong fiscal performance for 2020.

“Grenada’s fiscal position continues to be strong, with an expected primary surplus after grants of 6.8% of GDP, at the end of 2019. This performance is anchored in our adherence to the Fiscal Responsibility Act and backed by continuous reforms in both the Inland Revenue Department and the Customs and Excise Division,” the Finance Minister said.

Dr Mitchell said that the public debt ratio is on a path of decline moving from 108% in 2013, to 62.7% in 2018 and projected to be 55.8% by the end of the year. “It is instructive to note that this expected outturn is not only below the 60% target established by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), but it will also be achieved way ahead of the 2030 deadline,” he informed the house and a broad section of invited guests which included diplomats, senior public servants and members of the public.

The decline in public debt, the Prime Minister said has resulted in a reduction in debt repayment requirement by EC$101 million between the seven-year period of 2013 to 2020. “The reduction in the repayment obligation reduces the burden on future generations and creates the space needed to advance developmental programmes that would keep this nation on a path of growth and development,” he said.

The estimates provide for Recurrent Revenue to be at EC$786.2 million, Recurrent Expenditure at EC$633.7 million; Current Account Surplus EC$152.5 million; Capital Expenditure EC$225.3 million; Primary Surplus after grants EC$212.8 million; Overall Surplus after grants EC$145.8 million and Principal Repayment/Amortisation EC$287.0 million.

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Missing Teen: Wazerah Lessey | NOW Grenada

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Police are seeking the assistance of the general public in locating Wazerah Lessey, 14 years old, Student of Calabash Alley, Grand Mal, St George.

Lessey was last seen at her home on Saturday, 9 November 2019. She is approximately five feet six inches in height, slim built and brown in complexion.

Anyone seeing Wazerah Lessey or has any information about her whereabouts is asked to contact the Central Police Station at 440 2245; CID at 440 3921; police emergency at 911; police hotline at 444 1958 or the nearest police station.

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Government to adopt procedural guidelines for investigating financial abuse in the system

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by Linda Straker

  • In 2020, government will undertake comprehensive review of its recurrent and capital expenditure
  • Procedural guidelines established for investigating financial abuse in public service

Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell announced that during the first quarter of 2020, the Grenada Government will undertake a comprehensive review of its recurrent and capital expenditure as part of efforts to improve accountability in the public service.

This was disclosed while he presented the 2020 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure as he spoke about measures to be undertaken in public expenditure reform. “The review will also provide concrete recommendations to strengthen expenditure controls and the institutional mechanism for expenditure management, as well as improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public spending,” he told the house.

Referring specifically to the cellphone scandals earlier in the year in which a number of former public servants including members of parliament had tallied thousands in cellphone use while not serving, Dr Mitchell said the entire fiasco revealed significant expenditure leakages in the system.

“The misuse of cellphones by persons within the system and those who already left the system caused a major embarrassment to the government in 2019. A complete review has been undertaken and we have the results which indicted the persons who are already out of the systems and therefore should no longer have access to the service,” he said, disclosing that steps are being taken with the service provider to recover some of the money.

“We cannot allow systemic failures to manifest themselves through irresponsible expenditure and poor accountability. We must, as a matter of priority, improve our expenditure management systems so that we can protect and consolidate the immense economic gains we have already achieved,” the Finance Minister said.

It was further disclosed that the Attorney General’s office in conjunction with the Public Service Commission has established procedural guidelines for investigating financial abuse in the system with a view to imposing disciplinary measures on public officials found guilty of such abuse.

“These procedures are expected to take full effect in January 2020,” the Prime Minister announced but did not disclose the format of disciplinary measures in the guidelines.

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