(St. John’s, Antigua ) The Honourable Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism,Economic Development, Investment, and Energy completed his inaugural visit to Berlin, Germany last week. The Minister attended three conferences to seek new hotel investment and forge closer relationships with German tour operators and airline partners. Travelling with the Minister as part of his delegation were Ambassador Brian Challenger, Mr. Rohan Hector – Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority; Hans Kupin – Economic Envoy for Antigua and Barbuda in Germany, new Vice President of Sales and Marketing for UK and Europe Mr. Jean-Marc Flambert and Cherrie Osborne – Director of Tourism UK & Europe
Minister Michael and Ambassador Challenger first attended, the CARICOM Energy Conference, which explored Green Energy opportunities for making the country self-sufficient in this area. Minister Michael, then met with other
Ministers of Tourism at the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) now in its 18th year. The forum included, a round table session where Ministers of Tourism discussed: critical issues; strategies for tourism investment promotions and reasons for global investors to invest. Minister Michael made a presentation to the session, which was recorded and along with the findings from the forum will be published to an audience of over 50,000 potential investors.
The forum also included a two-day event where Minister Michael, secured one on one meetings with the Regional Presidents of some of the world leading hotel chains – IHG, Wyndham, Viceroy, Marriott, Hilton, Park Inn and Starwood. In a separate meeting Minister Michael met with Michael Henssler, Managing Director, Key International Hotels management Co. Ltd and Xavier Destribats – President Europe to finalise a deal with the Kempinsky hotel group.
After some extremely positive meetings aimed at securing new hotel investment for Antigua and Barbuda, Minister Michael also participated in ITB one of the world’s largest annual business to business and consumer tourism event held in Berlin each year. This year’s event attracted over 174,000 trade and consumer visitors. In 2014 Germany saw the largest increase from Europe to Antigua and Barbuda, recording a growth of 9%.
The destination was supported by co exhibiting partners including – Antigua Yacht Club Marina, Blue Waters, Hermitage Bay, Sugar Ridge, Jolly Beach Resort and Spa, National Tours and The Inn at English Harbour.
The teams conducted a packed schedule of successful meetings with key European based Tourism Executives and Airlines partners such as Condor, TUI and Dertour, Meires Weltereisen, yachting specialists – Sailing Classics, KH +P Yacht Charter, Viaggidea (Italy), Eden Viaggi (Italy), Thomas Cook (Germany) as well as numerous new tour operators.
The destination has clearly set its sights on making greater inroads into the European market. Bookings from Germany to the Caribbean are up 20% for 2015 with Antigua and Barbuda also seeing similar growth trends. Overall the German Tour operators were optimistic about the future and want to continuing working closely with the destination to grow the business even further. Condor once again confirmed its weekly direct flight for winter 15/16.
A notable achievement at this year’s ITB was the commitment given by Eden Viaggi an Italian tour operator to again have direct flights from Milan to Antigua with a year round charter with 130 seats weekly to the destination. This flight will be shared with the Dominican Republic to service their Eden Village club and will starting in December 2015.
In summarising the week’s activities, Minister Michael commented that “Our intense week of tourism promotions and investment conferences presented me with a unique opportunity to introduce and promote Antigua and Barbuda to some of the key movers and shakers in the Global Hotel Investment and European Tourism arena. Significant progress has been made which will ultimately contribute to growing the industry”.