Vernacular Tourism and the National Development Plan.
There are two international columnists who make regular contributions to our weekly newspapers namely: Sir Ronald Saunders and Mr. David Jessop whose articles are considered by the Sentinel as essential reading. While Sir Ronald focuses on Caribbean (CARICOM) affairs, Mr. Jessop provides a view of the affairs of the Caribbean from a European perspective.
Last weekend article of May 28, 2015 “Selling the authentic Caribbean” by David Jessop should attract the attention of the Grenada Tourism Authority as it has done to the Sentinel – in that a Sentinel article published in April 11, 2015 in the Grenadian Voice newspaper, during the designated Heritage Month of APRIL, entitled: “Architectural Vernacular Grenadian Style” had pre- empted Jessops’ current observation(s).
Here are extracts of Jessops’ – Selling the authentic Caribbean: “For those willing to look over the horizon, the issue now is about reorienting and developing the Caribbean tourism offering to reflect international demands for the authentic. ………. This will mean a sea change in the way that some in the industry and governments in the region think…….. This will not be easy as it requires properties, restaurants, attractions……. to think in a vernacular way…….. in a manner that promotes the uniqueness of the Caribbean nations in which they are located”. As Professor Wendy Grenade recently puts it – a “disruptive” Caribbean thinking.
Jessop continues to say that “By the vernacular in tourism I mean giving greater consideration to the genuine in the physical, cultural and social environment in which tourism takes place, …….. but if the Caribbean does not recognize that it has more to offer than a smart international hotel with smart international cuisine set on a white sand beach with a golf course, it is neither doing the country in which the property is located a service nor underwriting long –term competitiveness in an international market where everyone else is doing the same”.
The Sentinel article of May 11, 2015 in the Grenadian Voice presented the Caribbean vernacular architecture as a cultural asset, as is done in Barbados with their Chattel Houses which has become a boon to its Tourism Industry. Here in Grenada however, hardly any mention is made of the vernacular expressions of our ancestors.
Perhaps Jessops’ admonition may be a wake- up call to our local Tourism Authority to look deeper into our cultural assets in order to present a more authentic Grenadian/ Caribbean tourism product which can be included as part of our National Development Plan in our endeavour to achieve a PURE GRENADIAN experience.
A Willie Redhead Foundation Presentation June 1, 2015.