By John Albanie

There are three very large areas of business in which Grenada features nowhere at present. They are massive, unrelated game changers which would transform this island’s economy. The authorities assure me that they are giving each one of these markets “every possible encouragement”. And so they should; but the proof will be in the pudding and I, for one, relish the prospect of any one of these markets coming about. What is unquestionable is that entering any one of these fields of business will put this island in a different league and will make investors (current and future) very happy campers.

The Medical Tourism Market

This is a market that has been estimated at between US$ 38 to US$ 55 billion dollars as at 2014, consisting of 11 million cross border patients worldwide, spending around US$ 3,500 to US$ 5,000 per visit , as reported last year by Patients Beyond Borders, a key player in this field. The top destinations as at 2014 were Costa Rica, India, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and the United States. The Caribbean does not yet seriously feature in this market but Cuba, the Cayman Islands (Health City) and St Kitts Nevis have put some markers on the ground.

Grenada benefits from the presence of a reputable international university (St George’s University) whose support for a Teaching Hospital would provide the focus for a “Medical Park Facility” involving a medical research centre, wellness centres, secondary private medicine clinics and retirement homes. This is no pie in the sky : it is a detailed business plan which a group of entrepreneurs are currently putting together. One of them, Rolf Hoschtialek, a Grenadian  businessman puts it this way :

“ Our proposed Grenada Medical Park Project contains multiple sub-projects, including a medical tourism hospital and a new national hospital for the island’s Health Service. A medical research centre is also planned – enabling SGU’s School of Medicine to expand into post graduate studies . Investors from the USA have also proposed a rehabilitation clinic and it is envisaged that care homes for retired persons, with graduated assistance will also be built. A health and wellness spa hotel and specialist clinics (sports, medicine, dentistry and cosmetic surgery ) will add to the commercial viability of the project.”

Shown below  is a lay-out of the various components of the project as located in one of the sites under consideration.

The Golfing Market

The list below shows the number of golf courses operating or under construction in the Caribbean. Grenada features nowhere in that market – it has a 9 hole grazing ground, supported by some very keen and long-suffering local golfers. A dear old  friend of mine  was one of the founders. He used to have to round up the goats on the course and put them in pens before teeing off ! 

In recent months, one of our golfers teamed up with one of the world’s leading golf course companies and they examined a 317 acre site in the general area of Bacolet, in the parish of St David’s, some 20 minutes drive from the capital and the main resorts.  The result was a copyright layout for an outstanding 18 hole championship course.

It is described by our golfing friend as follows:  “It has to be one of the most stunning of courses; with breathtaking views adjoining beautiful beaches and great challenges. There are water features on a number of holes and a peninsula with mind-blowing views. Nine of the holes and the practice area can be floodlit to allow play after sunset.  This course will be high on the list of 10 million or so golfers who travel every year to far flung corners of the world to test their game”

The design of the course includes the provision of sufficient real estate to accommodate high-end residential and resort development.

The Heritage Tourism Market

Grenada is replete with heritage assets but has so far been strangely ineffectual at preserving and exploiting them. St George’s alone has more marketable heritage inventory than can be found in entire countries in the Caribbean.  Conservation architect Peter Wallace is a founding partner of Atlantic Partnership. He once worked with English Heritage, an organization that is savagely protective of Britain’s heritage. Peter has transplanted some of that savagery into his role as a member of the Board of the Grenada National Trust (www.grenadanatinonaltrust.org). This is what he has to say :

“Currently Grenada has one of the finest collections of historic buildings, natural heritage and archaeological artifacts in the whole of the Caribbean. I use the word currently because by lack of attention and focus a little bit more of these are lost every day. Heritage assets need to be preserved, conserved and presented to the tourism industry and this costs money. Happily the outside world sees heritage as valuable to mankind on an international basis. The French and the British built the forts around St George’s. That makes the forts part of those countries’ history, as well as Grenada’s. We are therefore approaching the international community (in this case UNESCO) and expect to be given a fair hearing for the necessary funding of three initial projects : World Heritage Status for the Grenadines area  and similar status for the town of St George generally and  for its  fortified system in particular (Fort George, Fort Mathew and Fort Frederick). This will swing open the floodgates of restoration funding and unleash an immediate increase in visitor numbers and tourist spend. I rest my case. “

It is not rocket science to acquire World Heritage status, as Peter’s opposite numbers in Morelia, Mexico (see http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/585), Old San Juan in Puerto Rico (see http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/266), Old Havana in Cuba (see http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/204) and Cartagena in Colombia (see http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/285) can testify. All we need is actual activity – as opposed to “ole talk” – from politicians, from the authorities, from educational and preservation societies and from the general public. Watch this space.

And there you have it, dear reader. A lot happening in Grenada. It is a great place to visit, an amazing place to live in and a good place to invest in at the moment. But also a great place to die in (see photo at end of this article). Read In Peace, everyone.

John Albanie came to Grenada 28 years ago. He operates a real estate company called CARIBBEAN ENTERPRISES.

(+1 473 405 4558    fortress@spiceisle.com).

If you wish to be involved or have any questions or comments on any of the above please contact Rolf (407 0902    rolf.concepts@spiceisle.com), Peter (415 2106  peterwallacegd@gmail.com) or John  (405 4558    fortress@spiceisle.com).

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