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!

                                               —-End—-

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).

The Financial Services Regulatory Commission is accepted as member of the CGBS.

ST.JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda – 13th August 2015…….On June 12 at their CARICOM Central Bank Governor‘s Meeting , the  Governors  approved  the application of the  Financial Services Regulatory Commission  of Antigua and Barbuda to be admitted  as an associate  member of the  Caribbean Group of Banking Supervisors( CGBS) .

The CGBS was established by CARICOM Central Bank Governors in 1983 with the mandate to enhance and coordinate the harmonization of the bank supervisor practices with a view to bringing them in line with internationally accepted practices.  The membership consists of banking supervisors from seventeen regional jurisdictions namely:  Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Island, Cayman Islands, Curacao, St. Maarten,   Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, and Trinidad and Tobago.  The CGBS is a regional grouping under the Basel Committee for Banking Supervisors.

The chairmanship is restricted to the different CARCICOM member Central Banks as the CGBS is a creation of the CARICOM Central Bank Governors.  In this regard, as an associate member Antigua and Barbuda will enjoy all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of core membership. The chair is currently held by Jamaica.

The FSRC was accepted as a member of the Group of Finance Centre Supervisors on April 27, 2015.

Antigua and Barbuda Participates in the conference of CARICOM Heads of State & Government

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – July 3, 2015………..Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, the Honourable Gaston Browne, joined his colleague OECS Heads in Grenada for the convening of the 61st Meeting of the OECS Authority. Among the matters tackled by OECS Heads were issues related to the annual work programme of the OECS Commission, the question of scope for a health framework within the OECS, and the blacklisting of OECS Member States by the European Union as being “non-cooperative jurisdictions” with regard to the official sharing or exchange of tax information.
Following the OECS Meeting in Grenada, Prime Minister Browne journeyed to Barbados, accompanied by the Honourable H. Charles Fernandez, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, to participate in the 36th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) which opened on Thursday.
Under the theme, ‘CARICOM: Vibrant Societies, Resilient Economies’, the Opening Ceremony of the CARICOM Heads Meeting heard from a number of dignitaries, who addressed various issues up for consideration of the CARICOM Heads. His Excellency Irwin LaRocque, Secretary General of CARICOM, expressed his thanks to the Right Honourable Perry G. Christie, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, for his skillful stewardship of CARICOM during his Chairmanship of the Conference. The Secretary General, in his remarks to the Heads and guests concluded that the future of our Community, through regional arrangements such as the CSME and programmes supporting sustainable development objectives could be achieved through willingness and hard work. He noted that “unleashing the dynamism and creativity of the Region will propel us to achieve the level of development we seek.”

CARICOM Heads
CARICOM Heads

In his remarks, which touched on many issues, Outgoing Chair of CARICOM, Prime Minister Christie emphasized how valuable and pivotal Tourism is for the development of the CARICOM Region. Citing his own country’s challenges to enhance its tourism product, the Bahamian Prime Minister remarked that, “for most of our countries Tourism is the largest earner of foreign exchange; the one sector that employs most of our private sectors; there are intrinsic benefits which are delivered by Tourism.” He concluded that, “The Caribbean should not only be seen as the main region of the world that is dependent on Tourism, but also the world’s most competent region on Tourism.”
Other distinguished speakers included the Honourable Donaldson Romero, Premier of Montserrat, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis, His Excellency Brigadier David Granger, the President of the Republic of Guyana, and the Right Honourable Freundel Stuart, Q.C., M.P., the Prime Minister of Barbados and Incoming Chairman of the Conference of CARICOM Heads. Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency Ban Ki Moon, also briefly addressed the CARICOM delegations and distinguished guests.
The delegation of Antigua and Barbuda will participate in various discussions of the agenda, which, among other issues, will confront areas such as the role of universities in resilience building and wealth creation amongst Caribbean people, relations with the Dominican Republic, and the unfair blacklisting of CARICOM Member States, such as Antigua and Barbuda, as non-compliant tax havens by the European Commission.
Other Members of the Antigua and Barbuda delegation include Valique Gomes, Permanent Secretary (Acting) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and His Excellency Dr. Clarence Henry, Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to CARICOM.

source: http://caribarena.com/antigua-and-barbuda-participates-in-the-conference-of-caricom-heads-of-state-government/

Minister Asot Michael Remarks on Completion of Sweeping & Dredging of St. Johns Harbor

His Excellency Sir Dr. Rodney Williams, Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda
Hon Steadroy Benjamin: Attorney General and Acting Prime Minster of Antigua and Barbuda
Ambassador H.E. Mr. Brian Stuart Young Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China
Mr. Hu Qui Quan, Secretary to Ambassador H.E. Mr. Ren Gongping, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Antigua and Barbuda Cabinet Colleagues and Members of Parliament
Senator, the Honourable Mary-Claire Hurst: Chairperson of the Antigua Port Authority, and Board of Commissioners
Chairman of SJDC: Mr. Rohan Hector and Board Members, and members of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Chairman of the Antigua Pier Group: Mr. Craig Whyte, and Board Members Hoteliers, Taxi Drivers, Tour Operators and Business Owners
Other Distinguished guests ,A very warm welcome to all of you.
Today’s event marks a truly historical reversal in the fortunes of Antigua & Barbuda. Today, we celebrate the completion of the sweeping and dredging of our St. John’s Harbour. This of course is only the beginning of a grander plan to upgrade and improve on the legacy, dating back to 1968.
I extend my sincere gratitude to all of you for joining us on this memorable and joyous occasion for Antigua and Barbuda. The completion of this first phase will lead to achievement of the master plan; the new St. John’s Harbour will catapult this country’s tourism future forward, making it a favored port-of-call for cruise lines. We intend to make Antigua and Barbuda an economic powerhouse in the Caribbean, and nothing less.
That said, despite the competition from our neighbours and the turmoil that the industry has suffered in recent years, the Antigua & Barbuda Labor Party (ABLP) Administration, lead by Prime Minister, the Honourable Gaston Browne, is to be applauded for its relentless efforts in re-building the Cruise Industry in our fair country, achieving the growth which is experienced today.

In fact, this season is forecast to be a bumper cruise season with over 700,000 cruise passengers visiting our shores, the positive effects of which have already been felt by all our local stakeholders.
As the premier destination, we were the first country to have four dedicated cruise berths exclusively for Cruise ships in the entire Eastern Caribbean.
At the time when the Nevis Street Pier was completed, Antigua and Barbuda enjoyed a tripling of our cruise arrival numbers. And now, after a 10-year slip, the new administration has demonstrated the priority it places on the cruise industry by its tangible efforts to address the long outstanding issues which stymied growth.
We have returned the harbour to its original state. Truth be told, in many areas we have surpassed the original water depths so that we can now safely and adequately provide berths for the largest cruise vessels serving the region.
It is the intention of this Government to continue the work that has been started by shortly commencing work on the piers and the landside facilities, to put the Cruise Industry firmly back on the Front Burner and to bring Cruise Tourism back to the pinnacle where it once was and more under this Labour Party Administration.
These goals have propelled us to this point, where we will soon reclaim our place as the favored Caribbean cruise port and cruise destination—and it all begins right here, right now, on this very day.

I’d like to take the time to highlight a few of the many achievements which marked this special journey to commence the renewal of St. John’s.
First and foremost, I am exceedingly happy to report that not only did we set a time of completion and meet that deadline with flying colors, but we also achieved our goal well under our estimated cost. That is reason enough to wake up with a giant smile on our faces.
For this our country offers profound thanks to Ambassador H.E. Mr. Ren Gongping and the Government of the People’s Republic of China who have always stood in solidarity with the Government and people of Antigua and Barbuda, particularly as it relates to facilitating major infrastructural projects. Without your country’s support Your Excellency all this would not have been possible.
We trust that the manner in which we delivered this project will motivate our Chinese partners to work even closer with us in ensuring that the funds promised may soon become available to allow the complete transformation of lower St. John’s and both our Cruise and Cargo Port facilities.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the commitment by the Chinese government to finance the St John’s waterfront Development project to the tune of US$268 million, was the catalyst that encouraged the contractor China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC) to advance the funds to effect this most urgent and necessary dredging works.

To the Directors and local managers of CCECC we expressed our heartfelt appreciation. Your decision to advance the initial funds of US$3,997,000 to effect the works has already started yielding fruits with our cruise lines partners who have indicated that they shall be increasing their services to our lovely country. The Cruise lines are indeed excited that something that they have requested for a number of years is finally done and for your trust and support we say THANK YOU!
To our main contractor Ansa Mcall, the people of Antigua and Barbuda are grateful for the level of professionalism displayed throughout this dredging project. Your bid was the best price and your deliverable reflects work of the highest quality. Your commitment in facilitating the transfer of knowledge to our local port Authority staff is noteworthy and we salute you for delivering this project ahead of schedule and within the budget allotted.
To sub-contractors BOSKALIS, you remained true to your international acclaim by delivering top quality dredging works. Your efforts during this project have been outstanding. We are hopeful that the professionalism displayed can motivate all involved. You have enhanced the local talent and by so doing have left greater local capacity, which should benefit us in the future. You conducted your business regardless of the many obstacles during the busiest time of the year. For your commitment to the environment and ensuring that all local regulations were adhered to, we are most grateful.

To all our Tourism, Cruise and Port stakeholders and everyone else who worked tirelessly to ensure that this project was delivered in such an efficient manner, I say a heartfelt thank you. You have all done Antigua and Barbuda proud!
Secondly, the sweeping and dredging serve as a demonstration of our commitment to the industry and an understanding of their business. When we shared a progress report with our cruise line partners at the recent Miami Cruise Shipping Convention, we were met with the enthusiastic response: ‘we are now demonstrating that we understand their business”. For more than one decade, they have not seen an Antigua and Barbuda Government official. When Molwyn Joseph served as Minister of Tourism during the leadership of Prime Minister Lester Bird, it was the last visit of an Antigua and Barbuda official.
The completion of this project has strengthened our relationships with our Partners, not least a major partner such as Carnival Cruise Lines. For example Carnival has been pleasantly delighted with our performance and in our ability to listen to our guests’ feedback and respond in kind. As a result, our destination rating in a region of 30 ports has jumped from #27 last October 2014 to #17 today. Leadership matters. We still have a lot to do but the results are encouraging and show that, for our critical cruise industry, the Government’s polices have already began to yield results. We are definitely moving in the right direction. This bodes well for not just Carnival but for all of our current and future cruise line partners.

Ladies and gentlemen, please permit me to take a few moments to highlight some details from our plans for the renewal of St. Johns and the total transformation of our Port facilities. The funds are earmarked as follows:
– To prepare parking areas and the establishment of a Transportation Hub.
– The Construction of a seawall to secure the water front area in front of the Old Bryson’s building adjacent to the new Ferry Dock.
– Repairs to roads, restructuring of gutters and sidewalks throughout lower St. John’s, including installation of waste run-off collection areas.
– Provide a clear thoroughfare connecting Redcliffe Quay and Heritage Quay along Commissioners Alley, along with general repairs and maintenance of the entire area.
– A modern Marina, with Hotel, Condominiums Casinos, High-end designer Shops, Green space, A museum and a host of other modern amenities.
– A new modern cargo terminal, a new warehouse, Customs and Port headquarters, and a logistics park,
Ladies and Gentlemen the entire new waterfront development will stretch from the Deepwater Harbour to the current Cruise facilities in Downtown St John’s.
This is only the beginning of our plans for upgrading the Harbour and Port Facilities.

In fact, the negotiations and discussions to facilitate these plans are already well under way both on the financing side and also the design and development side. The neglect that marked the previous administration is a mistake of the past.
At Cruise Shipping Miami, we met with several industry and world-renowned architects and designers who have already made compelling presentations to us. As we seek to get the best possible design suited to our needs, we will ensure that whoever is finally selected must have an impressive track record of delivering major projects, done from conceptual design to construction and project management.
Our potential partner for this phase of the development must also be respected in the industry and have strong relationships with the major cruise lines, which will result in strengthened ties with these giants of the Cruise Industry.
I would like to leave you with a promise. I promise that this administration, led by the Honourable Gaston Browne, will intensify its efforts in reclaiming our former prestige as a top Caribbean port but, also, to be much much more. This season, our numbers are the best we’ve had in several years. The increased arrivals are a testimony to our efforts and our commitment to achieving these goals for the betterment of Antigua & Barbuda.
Realize that the completion of this dredging project is only the beginning and that the future looks very bright indeed.
I would like to use this opportunity to thank everyone who worked tirelessly to ensure that this project was delivered in such an efficient manner. You have all done Antigua and Barbuda proud.

Ladies and Gentlemen you have my personal assurance and commitment from the entire Gaston Browne Administration that we will make certain that the resources are made available so that the, long-term improvements for the Port and City of St. John’s remain a top priority.
The continued collaboration and support of all local cruise tourism stakeholders—in our quest to improve the cruise industry—will allow our country to guarantee a first-class experience for our valued cruise line partners and for the thousands of prospective cruise guests that visit our shores each year.
What we are celebrating today, in the completion of the critical dredging works, is a promise made by the new Gaston Browne administration and a promise kept!
Thank you all for attending.

Honourable Asot Michael of Antigua and Barbuda Remarks BA Service to ANU and TKI

AsotMichael CARICOM

Hon Porsha Stubbs, Minister of Tourism Turks & Caicos,
Dr. Kingsly Been, Chairman of Turks & Caicos Tourism Board
Mrs. Lavern Skippings-Reynolds, Airport Manager, Providenciales International Airport
Ralph Higgs, Director of Tourism, Turks & Caicos Airport
Mr. Rohan Hector, Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority
Mr. Colin James CEO Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority
Ms. Paula Frederick-Hunte Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism
Ms. Shirlene Nibbs: Tourism Consultant in the Ministry of Tourism
Other Distinguished guests and members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Good afternoon.

First of all, I would like to warmly welcome everyone to V. C. Bird International Airport today, and to thank you for being here to celebrate and share this exciting occasion in tourism, for not only Antigua and Barbuda, but even more so for our close friends from The Turks and Caicos, Islands as well as British Airways.

Today marks a very important step in the gaining importance of the Caribbean for the UK and European tourism industry. We ,a Part of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are welcoming the inaugural flight of a British Airways service that will transit Antigua and where the aircraft will continue onwards to the Turks & Caicos Islands.

I believe I can speak for everyone here today by saying that Antigua and Barbuda have long had a mutually beneficial and respected relationship with the tourism industry from the UK – and beyond – a relationship that we have done much to foster to ensure all visitors know they will be embraced with open arms when they arrive.

Figures for the UK tourism market to the Caribbean as a whole have been showing positive growth, and I believe we can officially say that the Brits love us, and of course, that we love the Brits! In fact we look forward with much expectation to welcome thousands of English cricket fans for the upcoming Test Series with the West Indies which will be held in Antigua from April 13th -17th.

This rise in popularity of both Antigua and Barbuda and The Turks & Caicos Islands as top destinations is shown by British Airways agreeing to add a direct link between our two destinations. Additionally, with British Airways being one of the world’s largest carriers, it means that not only will UK residents, but so will many others from across Europe connecting via Gatwick, be able to visit our dual destinations even more easily.

This new airservice also means that for the first time in the history of our two countries there will be direct flights between the Eastern Caribbean and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
This new flight means new opportunities and choices available to us for increased business activities and closer collaboration. The end result will be greater economic growth while, simultaneously building the spirit of regional integration between our two countries.

We are confident more choice will equal more visitors for everyone here, and everyone in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

I do truly stress the ‘us’ as this new flight will offer an increase in options not only for those wanting to visit Antigua and then visit the Turks and Caicos, but also vice versa for those visiting Turks & Caicos now being able to easily visit Antigua. We know when passengers are flying 8 hours and longer from Europe that they truly want to explore the Caribbean and this direct flight allows them to easily, comfortably, and quickly travel between these two, I would say, unique and perfect destinations in the Caribbean.

This new air service comes with unique advantages. It actually means visitors from the UK and Europe as well as the Eastern Caribbean wanting to visit our friends in the Turks & Caicos Islands will be able to do so without travelling via a US port. This is a major benefit as transferring at an airport in the US means obtaining a regular visitor’s VISA or ESTA pre-clearance visas for all non-US citizens. Not only is there a costinvolved for obtaining a visa, but untold amounts of time is spent standing in immigration and custom lines while transiting most US airports. We can promise all travelers transferring directly to Turks and Caicos a smoother, quicker and more enjoyable experience – plus an even more wonderful experience if they choose to stop-over!

As part of our investment to prove to visitors how important they are to us, and to ensure that all visitors receive the best travel experience possible on our island, we will be opening a new airport terminal very shortly. This will feature not only the latest technology for our passengers to avail of, but also first class duty free shopping. Additionally the overall passenger experience will be greatly enhanced by expedited processing procedures with multiple VIP andPremium Passenger First Class lounges.

Finally I would like to take this opportunity to extend an invitation to my colleague Minister, of Tourism from the Turks and Caicos Islands the Honourable Porsha Stubbs to be present with us in June to help us celebrate the opening of our new airport which will mark the commencement of a new phase ofgrowth in tourism for our beloved country.

May the start of this inaugural direct service between Antigua and Barbuda and the Turks and Caicos Islands mark the beginning of a new the phase of friendship, cooperation and growth in this vital industry between our countries.

Thank you.