NEW YORK -- Visibility is the name of the game for tourism officials in Grenada.

Brenda Hood, minister of tourism, said current market factors call for a "more aggressive stance and presence" in the U.S. travel community.

Hood cited such factors as Grenada's loss of American Airlines' direct flight from the U.S. earlier this year, the 6% decline in visitor figures last year over 1999, the overall slowness of tourism growth within the Caribbean region and the "enticements of travel within the U.S. for Americans."

"Agents and visitors have to be made aware of Grenada as a viable destination," she said.

Officials are hopeful that Grenada's new Web site, to be launched this summer, will be just the right tool for creating awareness of the Spice Island.

The new site, at www.grenadagrenadines.com, replaces www.grenada.org, which William Joseph, director of tourism, described as "obsolete and totally out of date."

Grenada's festivals are another tool for attracting visitors and visibility.

Coming up is the annual Spice Jazz Festival, from May 23 to June 3, and Carnival and the Carriacou Regatta in August.

Hood and Joseph were in New York for tourism meetings in conjunction with recent Caribbean Week events.

Hood said that U.S visitors to Grenada last year numbered 32,000, primarily from the Northeast, although Miami and California are "strong."

"We're projecting a visitor growth rate between 3% and 5% this year," she said.

Grenada is moving forward with infrastructure improvements, including new roads, attractions and hotel expansions.

The island welcomed the 16-cottage LaLuna in December.

An $11 million expansion at Point Salines Airport will be finished in June. Spice Island Inn added 10 new rooms, bringing inventory to 66 rooms, and the 186-room Grenada Grand Beach Resort plans to add 52 rooms, with completion set for October.

"Grenada has no chain hotel, although we are talking with several companies," Hood said.

Joseph said plans are under study for a new cruise terminal in St. George's. Next winter -- for the first time -- Topaz and Renassiance ships will call in Grenada 15 times.

On the nature front, several new trail developments are under way.

"With more travelers looking for eco-destinations, we are focused on preserving our natural beauty," Joseph said.

For more information, call the Grenada Board of Tourism at (800) 927-9554.

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