Asot Michael speaks at the Annual AHTA Awards Gala

Honourable Asot Michael Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Energy and Investment Speaks At The Annual AHTA Awards Gala.ocean

 Good evening everyone. I am very pleased to be asked to share a few of my thoughts with this distinguished and accomplished gathering, tonight. As this administration strives to Antigua and Barbuda into an economic powerhouse, the Ministers of Government recognize that the actual heavy lifting has to be undertaken by those men and women who excel in this industry. Tourism is the engine of growth and the industry that will continue to bring us wealth and opportunities.

You have been responsible for nurturing the industry by offering excellent services, and I applaud you for your outstanding contribution to our economic growth. Excellence is our administration’s watchword; and, from the composition of the gathering of workers before me, it is evident that high performance is also the essence of your creed. I applaud each and every one of you for promoting Antigua by delivering excellent service to your customers.

As we are all aware, Antigua competes with more than 20 Caribbean destinations to attract customers to its shores. The easiest customer, which any property can attract, is the loyal customer who so enjoyed the last visit that he will come again and again. You are the key to ensuring that the customer becomes loyal to our destination. And, you have performed exceedingly well.

The evidence of that claim lies not only in the repeat visitor arrivals, but also in the level of satisfaction which outgoing customers reveal. These annual award ceremonies help to strengthen the resolve of staff to provide excellence in performance,always. Managers must therefore seek without surcease to find new methods of incentivizing excellent performance. I am pleased to join in this celebration tonight, since it serves as a clear indication that the AHTA is engaged in a beautiful exercise, filled with the wisdom of experience. I congratulate those who have played a pivotal role each year to make this program a reality. Colleagues and Friends: Antigua and Barbuda has invested in a new air terminal at a cost of nearly $100 million US dollars. We have received very high grades for the excellent standard established by that terminal. We have succeeded in attracting five new airlines that will provide additional airlift.

We have attracted more than US $3 billion dollars of new tourism investment, with the expectation of creating thousands of jobs and welcoming hundreds of thousands of new arrivals. It is our expectation to add 4,000 additional beds before 2020, thereby doubling our current capacity. When therefore we speak of creating an “economic powerhouse”, we refer to this ability to bring-in the investments, to expand the economy and to create new opportunities for investment, even by employees of hotels. You can be both worker and owner of those properties that are seeking capital. A hotel can pay a higher investment return than banks. They are offering 2% while you can earn as much as 15% return annually. I want to congratulate all the winners tonight. Next year,

we want more winners.

In our administration we say that: Failure Is Not An Option.

Thank you very much, and congratulations to all.

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Honorable Asot Michael spoke of regal princess crew.

Government of Antigua and Barbuda
Government of Antigua and Barbuda

I would like to start by very warmly welcoming Princess Cruises’ MS Regal Princess and all her wonderful crew and guests to Antigua on behalf of the Government and people of Antigua and Barbuda.


It is a real honor and pleasure to receive the MS Regal Princess as one of the world’s largest cruise ships for the very first time to St. John’s Port. The people of Antigua and Barbuda are welcoming you with open arms and warm hearts.

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We would like to thank you for the confidence you have placed in us as a destination and we promise that your over 3,000 guests will have an unforgettable experience.

 Your arrival is incredibly important for Antigua’s economy, so please know we will be taking the utmost care of your passengers as well as your vessel. Succinctly put: tourism is imperative to the success of Antigua and Barbuda and your guests are important part of the equation, and we know it is our duty to provide you and your guests a stay that is above and beyond the caliber of what you expect.

 As part of our promise to improve services on island, our government has delivered on a major promise to tourism partners by signing a $200 million agreement to modernize our St. John’s port and harbor to ensure we’re providing the most desirable product possible to visitors and residents. We aim to become the port-of-call of choice for those travelling to the Caribbean from around the world.

 A total transformation of the port facilities and downtown St. John’s will ensure that our main gateway the cruise tourism industry is the ultimate leader in the Caribbean.

 This development will include world-class casinos, cafes and restaurants, hotels, condominiums, and high-end designer shops. It will be difficult to match the Regal Princess, but we will try. We have already begun the process, having completed the full dredging of St. John’s harbor.

 So facilities and plans are well in place to offer a first class regal service not just our guests, but your crew as well.

            All of this is to say, we hope you enjoy your time with us today in Antigua, and that you will have the opportunity to appreciate our beauty, culture and warmth and that this is only the first of many calls of this spectacular vessel to our shores!

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Minister of Tourism the Hon. Asot Michael lauds the commencement exercise of the 2015 Class of the ABHTI

Government of Antigua and Barbuda
             Government of Antigua and Barbuda

It was an auspicious occasion today (Thurs); the passing out of over 80 students as the 2015 graduating class of the Antigua and Barbuda Hotel Training Institute (ABHTI). Tourism Minister the Hon. Asot Michael saw the organization and execution of the ceremony held at the Royal Antiguan Resort as first class and commends the Board and Faculty of the Institution on a job well done.

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“I must commend the ABHTI Graduating class of 2015 on the exceptional level of passes achieved in the various programs offered at the institution. The commencement exercise signified the dedication and commitment of the Board and Faculty and I must commend them as well on a job well done,” stated Minister Michael.

 The institution whose mandate is to produce a quality and skilled workforce and professionals for the Hospitality and Tourism Industry is run by a Board of Directors under the chairmanship of Ms. Shirlene Nibbs. Nibbs delivered remarks to the graduates surrounding the team of the ceremony “Never give up on you”, with the commencement address delivered by Mr. Antoine Browne, General Manager of the St. James Club and Villas, centering as well on the said topic. Browne made pertinent points on the way forward for the newly certified tourism industry personnel.  “Do not confuse service with being subservient…hospitality should be practiced every day of ouUntitled1r lives and it goes way beyond the workplace,” Browne noted.  He urged the graduates, “to continue to edify themselves as it takes constant training and retraining to become a hospitality professional”.

Governor General His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams and Lady Williams were in attendance at the ceremony with His Excellency presenting the award to Valedictorian of the class of 2015 Mrs. Karen Williams of the Resort Management fraternity.

 

The Honorable Minister of Tourism who presented awards to the top performing graduates in each program module assures his government’s commitment towards the continued development and expansion of the ABHTI in its quest to become the premier Hospitality and Tourism Training Institute in the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

Antigua and Barbuda and Kuwait Sign New Financial Arrangements for servicing Kuwait Fund debts

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Prime Minister Browne in discussions with Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. Foreign Minister Fernandez and Ambassador Aubrey Webson comprised the Antigua and Barbuda team

NEW YORK, NY – USA – 29th September, 2015…….Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne and First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the Board for the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, met on Monday and signed off on a new financial arrangement to service Antigua and Barbuda’s debt to the fund.

During the discussions Sheikh Sabah signaled his country’s delight in reengaging Antigua and Barbuda and expressed happiness from the members of the board of the fund that Antigua and Barbuda is taking a bold step in reengaging the fund. The Chairman also indicated that Antigua and Barbuda can now begin to explore ways in seeking more partnership with the fund and invited the Prime Minister to seriously consider this proposal

Prime Minister Browne said that he welcomed the opportunity to rebuild strong ties with Kuwait and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. “By being here today it shows Antigua and Barbuda’s commitment to rebuilding friendships and reestablishing trust, which was a key principle in his election campaign. One of my government’s priorities is to correct past wrongs, fulfill past obligations and set Antigua and Barbuda on a better path,” he said.

Prime Minister Browne and Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah following the singing of the new agreement
Prime Minister Browne and Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah following the singing of the new agreement

The Prime Minister thanked the Chairman for the invitation for Antigua and Barbuda to reengage the fund, however he cautioned that Antigua and Barbuda’s reengagement will be based on partnerships and investments that have tangible benefits for Antigua and Barbuda without incurring additional national debts.

Discussions were held on the possibility of Kuwait assisting with a sewage system for St. John’s and both parties agreed that these talks will begin in Lima, Peru in October during the annual IMF meeting.

Prime Minister Browne also used the opportunity to invite the Chairman to pay a visit to Antigua and Barbuda.

The new agreement signed will see Antigua and Barbuda making twice yearly payments on the outstanding debt to the Kuwait Fund and it also paves the way for the reengagement of the Fund in Antigua and Barbuda and opens avenues for the formulation of measures for debt relief.

The Kuwait Fund has provided loans to Antigua and Barbuda for the construction and renovation of the parallel taxiway at the airport, All Saints Road rehabilitation and the American Road to Airport road construction.

Antigua and Barbuda’s delegation during the signing ceremony included Foreign Minister, the Hon. Charles Fernandez, Ambassador to the United Nations, His Excellency Mr. Aubrey Webson, Senior Ambassador, Sir Ramez Hadeed and Counsellor in the Antigua and Barbuda Mission to the UN, Tumasie Blair. (Ends)