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/

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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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Royalton to Open Hotel in Negril

negril

Blue Diamond’s Royalton brand is planning to open a resort in Negril.

The company has announced that it would be opening the Royalton Negril at the former Grand Lido Resort and Spa in Negril, Jamaica.

The Grand Lido closed its doors as a result on April 26, according to the property’s Web site.

Royalton recently debuted another new Jamaican resort last year, the Royalton White Sands in Trelawny.

The company reportedly will spend $150 million on the redevelopment of the property.

The redevelopment is slated to expand the property to more than 500 rooms, according to a recent release from the government of Jamaica.

The property is slated to open in late 2016, according to reports given by Asot Michael Minister of Tourism.

Hon. Asot Michael’s opening remarks at OECS Regional Validation Workshop

AsotMichael CARICOM
Mr. Master of Ceremonies,
Distinguished representatives from OECS countries including our colleagues from the French Caribbean,
Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, Mr. Hugh Riley,
Mr. Roderick Soomer and other representatives from the OECS Commission,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is indeed an honor and pleasure for me to be able to welcome you here today to this very important meeting to discuss the issue of regional air transport within the eastern Caribbean.
Today’s meeting tackles one of the most difficult issues facing Caribbean tourism i.e. the problem of inter-regional travel and specifically inter regional air transport.
It is no secret that we face a tremendous battle in this regard. While international tourism continues to climb in most of our destinations, inter regional air travel – that is, travel within the Caribbean by Caribbean nationals and visitors – continues to show a precipitous decline.
In the case of Antigua and Barbuda, arrivals from the OECS have slipped from 18,740 in 2008 to 10,022 in 2014 – an almost 50% decline! While not all OECS countries may have witnessed such a dramatic collapse, I am confident in saying that we all share the concern of the continuing decline in passenger arrivals from within our region and a common desire to reverse this trend.
The reasons for wanting to reverse the trend are not difficult to identify. From the tourism perspective regional visitors provide at least two significant positive economic attributes. Firstly they are likely to travel outside of the peak season therefore providing stimulus to the tourism sector during the industry’s slow period. Secondly the regional market is particularly important for the small hotel sector comprising locally owned properties including apartments and guest houses. In all cases the regional traveler is an important contributor to the overall national and regional tourism picture with their expenditures on food and drink, accommodation, local transportation, entertainment and other goods and services.
An assessment of the factors driving this decline in inter-regional is likely to reveal, as the consultants have indicated in their report, a number of complex push and pull factors affecting the demand for inter-regional travel within the OECS.
Needless to say, for most Caribbean persons the key factor which they are likely to identify for the decline is the dramatic increase in the cost of air travel since 2008/2009. In fact the reduction in inter regional travel coincides with the escalation in ticket prices from those years.
However a number of other factors will also have contributed to the decline in inter-regional travel. Many of these stem from the development process itself, so that goods and services previously not available for example in Antigua but available in Dominica, are now available in Antigua possibly even in a virtual format over the internet. Each country now has its own international cricket facilities and its own music festival, so that the push and pull factors are constantly evolving and influencing the nature of the demand.
Notwithstanding these challenges, our administration is determined to restore growth in OECS and Caribbean arrivals into Antigua and Barbuda. This process has already begun with a major effort, for example, to restore international cricket through an enhanced relationship between government and the WICBC aimed at promoting the recent England tour as a major tourism promotional event. This has borne positive fruits with an encouraging number of regional and diaspora visitors coming for the match. We intend to continue to intensify such events which have potentially strong regional appeal.
We are also working to further develop the flow of ferry visitors from Guadeloupe coming on one day shopping excursions. This has emerged as a lucrative market for our downtown retailers, but itself reflects the challenges facing the regional travel industry as it is strongly impacted by
2
the comparative strength of the Euro vis a vis the US dollar to which our EC currency is pegged. We are also working to refresh our annual carnival product to make it more attractive among the now extremely competitive tourism carnival offerings available within the region.
Most of these efforts will require air transportation that is able to meet the demands of the consumer for cost and convenience. Today’s conference is therefore particularly timely as it brings together airline, tourism and aviation representatives from public and private sectors to review the consultants findings and to advance practical measures that governments and other stakeholders must take to revitalize our internal OECS travel market.
In fact, the emphasis here must be on a comprehensive plan to tackle this issue: a plan that involves partnerships with hotels, governments, airlines, shopping outlets, and other potential beneficiaries of an enhanced inter OECS tourism market. This combined approach will be necessary if we are to be attractive to other regional and international destinations with which we compete for visitors.
In addition to challenges such as airline costs and schedules, visitors within our region are also subjected to the hassle of multiple security checks on single journeys, as well as to often repetitive and burdensome Visa and other immigration restrictions. It is particularly incumbent on this gathering to advance bold actions for ending, at the earliest opportunity, the extreme inconveniences associated with multiple security checks. If only that is achieved then today’s meeting would have scored a major triumph.
In terms of Visa restrictions, I urge that OECS countries give consideration to a harmonized Visa policy which would allow for a Visa issued by one OECS country to be valid throughout the sub-region. Such an approach already exists in the EU so that guidance already exists in that regard.
It is also time for a harmonized OECS approach to the adoption of US, Canadian, UK, or EU Visas as qualifying the visitor for visa-free entry into the OECS. I think we all recognize our own limitations in conducting the type of due diligence which those countries undertake in their immigration review processes and the difficulties which many visitors, or potential visitors, from certain potential markets face in trying to obtain Visas to travel to OECS countries. It is time for us to modernize these procedures using technological solutions while at the same time integrating our national systems in such a manner as to establish the OECS as a single tourism and travel space.
These measures will go a considerable way to establish our region as friendly to visitors while maintaining the security and other requirements of our domestic laws and international obligations. It is important to note that arrangements for facilitating inter-regional travel were adopted on a short term basis during Cricket World Cup eight years ago, so that what we are proposing here is by no means new or revolutionary.
Before closing let me say how pleased I am that we have with us here today representatives from the French Caribbean. It is my view that the solutions for regional tourism, including inter-island air transport, will require the participation of all of the islands and territories that comprise the eastern Caribbean. In terms of the wider French market we are also encouraged by recent changes to LIATs schedule which I am told should enhance the possibility for connecting passengers from Paris through Guadeloupe.
In general, we see tremendous opportunities for joint benefits from greater economic linkages in tourism and trade between the French territories and the OECS and we welcome the participation of Martinique and Guadeloupe in these important regional discussions.
Finally let me wish you fruitful and frank discussions. It is important that you provide OECS governments with a clear set of policies and measures for tackling the serious crisis affecting inter-regional travel within our region. I look forward to receiving your recommendations and report.
I also hope that you will have the opportunity to enjoy some of the sights and sound of Antigua and Barbuda during your short stay, starting with the beautiful and tranquil waters of Jolly Beach and the wonderful hospitality for which our people have become world famous.
Thank you.

High level discussions on Energy and Tourism held between the Governments of Antigua and Barbuda and Japan.

     asot michhael caricom1

                                                   Government of Antigua and Barbuda
Ministry of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment & Energy
Queen Elizabeth Highway
St. John’s, Antigua
Tel:
(268) 468-4072
(268) 468-4054
(268) 562-8646
(268) 562-8647
Fax:
(268) 562-8648

20th April, 2015

Press Release: High level discussions on Energy and Tourism held between the Governments of Antigua and Barbuda and Japan.

asot michael in japan caricom meeting
Photo (left to right): Ambassador Ken Shimanouchi, Special Envoy for UN affairs and Special Envoy for Japan-CARICOM Relations and; Honorable Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy (Antigua and Barbuda).

High level discussions concerning energy and tourism were held today between the Honorable Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy and Ambassador Ken Shimanouchi, Special Envoy for UN affairs and Special Envoy for Japan –CARICOM Relations.

Minister Michael welcomed Ambassador Shimanouchi to his Ministry and expressed his Governments appreciation for the considerable assistance which the Government of Japan has provided to Antigua and Barbuda over the years. The Minister particularly commended the government of Japan for its decision to remove per capita criteria as a condition for concessional financing for small island developing States like Antigua and Barbuda and urged the Japanese government to promote this approach within the major international financial institutions.

For his part, Ambassador Shimanachi highlighted Japan’s ongoing program of assistance to the Caribbean in the field of energy particularly in renewable energy and energy efficiency. He indicated Japan’s interest in sharing its considerable expertise in such areas as energy efficiency and geothermal energy.

Minister Michael welcomed this development and pointed out Antigua and Barbuda’s interest in adopting sustainable energy solutions in such areas as waste to energy, retrofitting of existing inefficient lighting and air conditioning systems, and smart metering and requested that the Government of Japan consider a program of assistance to Antigua and Barbuda in this field.

The officials reviewed the recent experience of a high level CARICOM renewable energy mission to Japan which had visited a number of demonstration sites incorporating the latest trends in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

In this regard it was agreed that Antigua and Barbuda would submit an integrated package of proposals to the Government of Japan to assist in advancing the Governments program to achieve 20% improvements in energy efficiency as well as 20% renewable energy integration by the year 2020. This would include assessing the feasibility of a waste to energy plant in Antigua, as well as measures for ensuring the smooth integration of renewable energy into the national grid. Possibilities for assistance in wind and solar development were also discussed including opportunities for private sector investment from Japan.

The meeting also examined the potential for developing tourism linkages between Antigua and Barbuda and Japan and it was agreed that the Japanese Embassy in Trinidad would liaise with tourism officials in Antigua and Barbuda concerning the possibility for participation in major tourism trade fairs and explosions in Japan.

Also in attendance at the meeting were Ambassador Daven Joseph; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Energy, Mrs. Paula Frederick-Hunte; Mr. Andre Matthias and Mr. Girvan Pigott of the APUA Electricity Department; and Ambassador Brian Challenger, Adviser to the Minister of Energy.

asot michael in japan caricom meeting 7asot michael in japan caricom meeting  asot michael in japan caricom meeting 8 asot michael in japan caricom meeting 6 asot michael in japan caricom meeting 5 asot michael in japan caricom meeting 3

Antigua and Barbuda: Paradise in Disguise

ANTIGUAANDBARBUDA

The Land of 365 Beaches, Antigua and Barbuda is one of the world’s favorite vacation destinations. A part of CARICOM, the twin islands’ main contributor to GDP has been tourism. Asot Michael is the country’s AsotMichael CARICOMMinister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy.
Life on Antigua and Barbuda is a calm meditation on spiritual realms of inner worlds. The huffing and puffing frigates definitely outnumber the residents of these dream twin-islands. The food serves all tastes and all pockets. From authentic cavalier rum to spicy Susie’s hot sauce, Antigua serves it all. Its sun-dried seed jewellery coming from the wild tamarind and mimosa trees are hand crafted by the women of Antigua. Antiguan pottery is another thing to look out for. From figurines to dishes to table lamps, all serve as exotically Antiguan.
Some other things which one cannot afford to miss include jerk chicken on the BBQ, English Harbor 5 year old rum and a cold pint of Wadadli. A helicopter view of the exclusion zone on Monsterrat is a must as it views an entire city destroyed by the island’s volcanic eruption that occurred in 1995. The tropical rainforests, the turquoise seas and the exotic wildlife will never let the spirit of your vacation die.
Shirley Heights is a sprawling array of gun emplacements and military buildings on Antigua and Barbuda. The site owes its name to General Shirley, Governor of the Leeward Islands. It offers a breathtaking view of the English Harbor while the evening is being served rum punch and accompanied by reggae music.
The island’s exotic pottery is sold at an array of local markets. Sea View Farm Village is the center for folk pottery which dates back to the early 18th century. The fashion of pottery comes from slaves who crafted cooking vessels from local clay. Antiguan clay pottery doesn’t last long in cold environments and breaks easily.
The twin islands are paradise in disguise. With the July carnival, private beachfronts and exotic cruises, the Land of 365 Beaches offers you a beach for each day of the year.