Ministry of Tourism receives Courtesy Call from His Excellency Bahij Mansour, Israeli Ambassador

May 22, 2015…St. John’s, Antigua….His Excellency Bahij Mansour, Ambassador to Israel paid a courtesy call on the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy on Wednesday.

The Ambassador said, “I am overjoyed to be here with you and I hope that the relationship between Antigua and Barbuda and the State of Israel can deepen cooperation, especially in Tourism, Agriculture, and Energy. I am here to reinforce this relationship and I hope that in the coming years, the relationship will grow stronger.

Ambassador Mansour met with Tourism Minister Honorable Asot Michael, Tourism Consultant Shirlene Nibbs, and Advisor on Energy Brian Challenger, Solicitor General Lebrecht Hessey and Project Manager St. Clair Soleyn.

Israeli Ambassdor with asot michael

Minister Michael said “with the Ministry’s thrust to increased Tourism arrivals and having a more diverse source market, he is looking forward to Israelis visitors making Antigua and Barbuda a destination of choice. With this as a major focus the waiver of visas for visitors from Israel will be looked into. Ambassador Mansour stated, “Once agreements are put in place more tourists will be able to visit Antigua“. Another area Minister Michael spoke on was that of renewable energy and he looked forward to Technical support from Israel that has a lot of expertise in the area.

Israel Ambassador & Tourism Officials

In the area of Tourism Education and Development the Ambassador indicated that Israel provided quite a few scholarships for Caribbean Nationals. The exploration of offering courses in Kosher Cuisine was discussed. The Ambassador indicated with the inclusion of Jewish cuisine or offerings on the menu in hotels, this will indeed be another plus to lure visitors from Israel to Antigua and Barbuda.
The Ambassador is also responsible for Grenada, Dominica, Haiti, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.

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Hon.Asot Michael’s Remarkable speech On the announcement of JetBlue Service

Honourable Asot Michael
Minister of Tourism, Economic Development & Energy
Government of Antigua and Barbuda
Remarks

Jet Blue Press Conference-7224

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ANNONCEMENT OF JETBLUE SERVICE
VIP LOUNGE V.C. Bird International Airport
Friday 1st May 2015

Hon Robin Yearwood Minister of Public Utilities, Aviation and Transportation
Jet Blue Airways’ Executive Vice President, Commercial and Planning, Mr. Marty St. George,
Mr. Jeff Goodell: VP Government Affairs
Mr. Umang Gupta, Director of Getaways and Leisure Sales
Ms Elizabeth Ninomiya Manager of Corporate Communications, Latin America & Caribbean
Distinguished Guests
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen…

Today is a good day.
Today is a good day because all signs point to 2015 as being a landmark year for Antigua and Barbuda’s tourism. As the primary engine of growth for our nation’s economy, our tourism industry is vital, dynamic and evolving. The intense negotiations, and planning over the last several months has brought us to this point where we can now celebrate another first in Aviation for Antigua and Barbuda.

We are here to mark another milestone, the announcement of the introduction of non-stop service from JFK to Antigua and Barbuda on Jet Blue Airways,

Clearly, visitors to Antigua and Barbuda already have a lot to look forward to in 2015, as the country is in the final stages of the journey to complete our brand new airport terminal. As the largest, most modern airport facility in the region, it promises to be the pride of the Eastern Caribbean, operating to world class standards.

When this state-of-the-art facility is unveiled in a few weeks, it will send a signal of the development underway in our tourism industry and the increasing prosperity of Antigua and Barbuda. As the point of entry for air travelers, the V.C. Bird International Airport will provide the perfect backdrop, to highlight some of the destination’s unique selling points, among which are our rich history and cultural attractions, a range of exquisite resorts, 365 pristine beaches and one of the most prestigious Sailing Regattas in the world, the Antigua Sailing Week that we are celebrating this very week.

The new airport terminal will also symbolize the pathway to securing Antigua and Barbuda’s economic legacy, as we usher in an era of improved accessibility, growth and expansion, with increased stay over visitors, new airline partners, expanded and luxurious room capacities and an overall enhanced image.

Our new terminal has been designed to meet the needs of today’s modern travelers and will give the destination a competitive advantage. It will also expand our capacity for conducting business and will increase our carrier and landing capacity. It will be equipped with jet bridges, reliable kiosks, modern gate and ticketing areas that allow for a smoother arrival and boarding experience.
It will also feature several restaurants and high end duty free shops. This along with expedited customs and immigration processing will truly improve the passenger arrival and departure experience. Simply put; less time standing in Airport lines means more time lying on the beach!

This superior passenger destination experience will reflect the way today’s travelers live and choose to spend their time. Ladies and gentlemen this renewed focus on a superior experience that Antigua and Barbuda is embarking upon is directly aligned with the Philosophy of our Jet Blue Partners. My understanding is that our newest airline partner has not only declared that “Jet Blue exists to provide superior service in every aspect our customer’s air travel experience” but in order to reaffirm this commitment they have actually set forth a “Bill of Rights” for their customers.

As part of our developmental plans, we want to capitalize on the rebound in the US economy, our largest and fastest growing source market. We are increasing our room count with new hotel investments to expand our portfolio of properties and meet the diverse demands of new visitors.

The capacity of our new Airport terminal will allow us to handle up to 2M passengers per year. So naturally one of the future goals is to significantly increase the number of visitors that currently pass through our international airport terminal. To accomplish this objective, we have developed an airline strategy to increase airlift by attracting new carriers from our existing source markets. At the same time, we are exploring new gateways that will help us cultivate new source markets.

Opening new air access with convenient flight options is the key to “getting more heads in beds.”

To this end, we are pleased to announce the introduction of non-stop service from JFK to Antigua and Barbuda on Jet Blue Airways and I want to personally thank Mr. St. George and his team at Jet Blue Airways for their confidence in our plans for tourism and our tourism product which is demonstrated by this new service.

The flights will commence on 5th of November this year, just in time for the winter season, operating three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Jet Blue will be using the 150-seat spacious Airbus A320 aircraft, which offers travelers all of the amenities for which Jet Blue has become renowned.

Combined with extremely competitive fare, which will be a critical component of this partnership. We will see increased arrivals between the USA and Antigua and Barbuda. Jet Blue will provide greater access to visitors traveling from the Northeast region of the US. This is expected to stimulate a significant increase in stay over visitors, allowing Antigua and Barbuda to further benefit from the US market with more convenient non-stop flight options.

We are already intensifying our marketing efforts and will work closely with the travel trade to package and sell Antigua and Barbuda in key markets. We will continue to collaborate with stakeholders on a number of promotional initiatives to ensure that our strong tourism product continues to meet the visitor expectations. We will work closely with Jet Blue’s marketing team to stage a series of media, trade and consumer promotional activities to ensure that the launch of this new service to Antigua and Barbuda is successful.

In closing, I also thank the Honorable Prime Minister, my Cabinet colleagues and our partners in the private sector and my team at the Ministry of Tourism and the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority who have given their full support to facilitate Jet Blue’s service to Antigua.

Mr. St. George, Mr. Goodell, Mr. Gupta and Ms Ninomiya, welcome to Antigua and Barbuda… We look forward to an even more auspicious event in November when we will see the first 150 JetBlue passengers disembarking in our beautiful country.

May the partnership that has been started today be one that will be cemented in bonds of respect and friendship that will yield mutual benefits to both Jet Blue Airways and Antigua and Barbuda.

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PM Browne, will cater to the greater good of nation

_DSC1637In addressing utterances that have surfaced regarding environmental concerns, not only did the Prime Minister give the assurance that his administration is committed to sustainable development and the protection and management of the environment, but he served notice on the “fundamentalists” and those bent on narrow interests over the universal good.

In explaining the stance to be taken, the national leader suggested that there are “some” believing that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was never done regarding the project.
He made it abundantly clear that such persons ought to “liberate [their] minds of that fallacy, because an EIA was done as far back as 1997. Furthermore, a local individual is currently upgrading and up- dating that study for a clear pathway to proceed.
Drawing on a utilitarian approach, the Honourable Gaston Browne advised that those with the “fundamentalist ideologies” and those roughing up the seas “must be balanced.”
He stated unequivocally that: “We respect the views of all individuals even the views of the ignorant, but I want to make it abundantly clear, that individuals especially small minority groups with fundamentalist ideals, those cannot take precedence over the overall good of the country.
He was adamant that his administration will listen and will go ahead on its
projects with consensus without having to be lectured to by doubters.
The Prime Minister said: “My Government does not need to be schooled on the problems of the environment” because “there is no other government in the past that would have invested more in the protection of the environment than this present administration.” No doubt, this statement drew much support and applause.
PM Browne provided recent “tangible examples” to strengthen his contention. He spoke to the strengthening of the legislative framework through the passing of the new Energy Act and the new Environ- mental Protection and management Act.
In addition he told the audience that the Government has provided “$20 million to acquire 10 megs of solar energy for the country,” and has also “committed in excess of $1.1 million per month from the CIP funds to keep this country clean, in addition, to what has been appropriated in the budget.”
The Prime Minister did encourage the developers to maintain the “pristine” setting while stating that his administration “pursues development in a responsible manner to ensure that all developments are done on a sustainable basis.”
He would have also touched on the need to “plant trees as a zero-hungry programme ,” so that those now imperilled by plight of poverty would not revert or choose the option of “robbing or other criminal activities that lead to jail time.”
All in all, the Prime Minister was elated at the synergies and successful partnerships that will bear ripe fruit for Antigua and Barbuda thereby positioning the country to become the economic powerhouse of the Caribbean.
According to PM Browne, these projects are indicative of the “plethora of investments” that can and will change the social, economic, and physical character of the nation.

Soil Turned ,Jobs On

yida zhang picYida Zhang, president of the Yida International Investment Group, spoke briefly at the ground breaking ceremo- ny for the Antigua Special Economic Zone. This historic event took place yesterday, on Thursday April 30, 2015 at Barnacle Point and Guiana Island. Apert from first expressing his love for Antigua and gratitude towards the na- tion’s people, Mr. Zhang went on to say precisely why the YIDA project – The Antigua Special Economic Zone – bears tremendous significance, not just for the twin-isle but in the context of the wider Caribbean and global commerce.
Stating that his presence yesterday was to “cement the relationship with the country,” Zhang proceeded to announce that the development of the re- development of the 8 square kilometres land was “almost complete” in laying the groundwork for the great things to come to Antigua with the 16 functional zones of the Antigua Special Economic Zone. Zhang, to very appreciative ap- plause stated emphatically that:”Phase 1” of the project, “will commence in May 2015 (this month).” Zhang also made a most welcomed and grand announce- ment when he told the attentive audience which included His Excellency the Gov- ernor General, Sir Rodney Williams and, the Honourable Prime Minister Gaston Browne, that “Hard Rock International” is on board and will be the first project which will see a “hotel, casino, cafe, water-park, commercial and other elements”which will begin in 2016.

np pic 1

In addition, the president of YIDA International said that togeth- er with tourism, there will be “economic diversification” coming as value added to An- tigua and Barbuda in the form of YIDA’s international finan- cial centre, a university city, and corporate headquarters which will launch in 2016. Indeed, Zhang’s electrifying passion was fitting the oc- casion and expressive of the dream that Antigua and Barbuda was now firmly set to become the embodiment of progressive and sustainable development.

yida zhang pic 1
President of the Yida International Investment Group, Yida Zhang, signs on the dot- ted line

To that end, Mr. Zhang without reserve or hesitancy asserted that “credit has to be given to the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) for spearheading the historical transformation of the Special Economic Zone not just in Antigua and Barbuda, but for the rest of the Caribbean region.” According to Yida Zhang, “Antigua will become the hub of all commercial activities inside the Eastern Caribbean.” Moreover, and arguably throwing out both challenge and caution, Zhang said that there are “key words” that must be kept at the forefront of everything being anticipated to bring the successes. For Zhang, the key words mean that we must be “pragmatic, revolutionary, open and innovative” because “without these, the zone will not be the full success that we require it to be.”
Moreover, Zhang encouragingly assured listeners that the “Antigua Special Economic Zone will become a global economic zone.” In closing, the passionate and energetic Zhang told the au- dience, and more or less the world, that he “welcomes all investors to come invest, con- struct, bring up Antigua for the better-hood of all residing in the region.”