ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA TOURISM OFFICES ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH JCI CARIBBEAN QUEEN SHOW

(St. John’s, Antigua) – The Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Tourism and the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority have partnered with JCI Antigua (Jaycees) for the 54th Jaycees Queen show this Sunday, bringing 11 delegates from throughout the Caribbean Region to Carnival City, for Antigua and Barbuda’s Carnival, The Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival.

Caribbean delegates in this year's JCI Queen Show are welcomed to Antigua and Barbuda by Minister of Tourism, The Hon. Asot Michael
Caribbean delegates in this year’s JCI Queen Show are welcomed to Antigua and Barbuda by Minister of Tourism, The Hon. Asot Michael

Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Tourism the Hon. Asot Michael, today, welcomed the delegates to Antigua and Barbuda, announcing the Ministry’s support for the outstanding show with an investment of US$8k.

“This show, more than any other event during the Carnival, fully embodies that message of Caribbean unity through this timeless competition. 11 stunning contestants from our neighboring islands are here with us. They will join in the festivities as we celebrate emancipation, during our summer festival, and participate in friendly competition.”

“We are here to enjoy and partake in wonderful art, phenomenal music, and some of the world’s finest pageantry and cultural expression…But, more than these necessary human values, the Jaycees Queen Show is about creating unity amongst the Caribbean Island-countries.”

 Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Asot Michael makes presentation to 2015 JCI President Shenella Govia.
Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Asot Michael makes presentation to 2015 JCI President Shenella Govia.

Now in its 54th year, the Jaycees Queen Show is the longest running pageant in the region.

Antigua and Barbuda’s delegate in the competition Ms. Asha Frank will be joined on stage by delegates from: The British Virgin Islands, Barbados, Dominica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the United States Virgin Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago.

“JCI Antigua is eternally grateful to the Ministry of Tourism and the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority for their continued support and assistance,” said 2015 President of JCI Antigua, Shenella Govia.

With Caribbean nationals, throughout the region, having their eyes on their hometown queen, competing on the big stage in Antigua, the Ministry of Tourism and the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority will make contact with thousands of these followers as they communicate with delegates with social media mentions of #LoveAntiguaBarbuda.

During the Carnival Period, The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority will also launch their carnival ‘selfie’ pop-up booth in the heart of Carnival city.  Visitors to the booth will have the chance to engage with Antigua and Barbuda’s tourism social media team, have their photo taken against the destination’s ‘selfie’ backdrop, and get destination information from the island experts.

Participants will also have the chance to win island excursions, restaurant dining experiences and branded merchandise.

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Honorable Asot Anthony Michael ,Minister Of Tourism, Economic Developement,Investment & Energy at JAYCEES CHEQUE PRESENTATION

Greetings one and all and, a special welcome to the lovely contestants who have travelled to our beautiful island to participate in the illustrious Jaycees Queen Show: Creative, Dynamic, Amazing. This show is an integral part of the Region’s Greatest Summer Festival, otherwise known as Antigua and Barbuda’s Carnival.

Caribbean delegates in this year's JCI Queen Show are welcomed to Antigua and Barbuda by Minister of Tourism, The Hon. Asot Michael
Caribbean delegates in this year’s JCI Queen Show are welcomed to Antigua and Barbuda by Minister of Tourism, The Hon. Asot Michael

This particular Show is special to me because of the role it plays in achieving an Antigua and Barbuda ambition. Yes, we are here to enjoy and partake in wonderful art, phenomenal music, and some of the world’s finest pageantry and cultural expression…But, more than these necessary human values, the Jaycees Queen Show is about creating unity amongst the Caribbean Island-countries.
The Jaycees Queen Show happens to be the longest running pageant in the region, thanks to the goodwill of many

corporate stakeholders. However, I also believe that this show, more than any other event during the Carnival, fully embodies that message of unity through this timeless competition. This year, 11 stunning contestants from our neighboring islands are here with us. They will join in the festivities as we celebrate emancipation, during our summer festival, and participate in friendly competition.

To that end, I am pleased to present this check of US$8,000 dollars to the Jaycees Queen Show. It is contributed on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism and The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority in affiliation with JCI Antigua.
I am additionally pleased to be present today because of family connections. My Great Uncle, Maurice Michael, was the very first President of the JCI here in Antigua. He would host the Queens at his home, each year, and contributed generously each year in order to ensure its continued success. I celebrate the legacy of Maurice Michael and those who have gone before.
May the show be once again another successful event as we celebrate the charm, poise and talent of these beautiful, intelligent. May the Jaycees Queen Show—creative, dynamic, amazing—continue its reign of longevity. Best of luck to each of our outstanding contestants!

Thank you

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.

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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.

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.

Speech of Asot Michael in the meeting about New strategies for Antigua and Barbuda Tourism

Hon.Asot Michael in the meeting
Hon.Asot Michael in the meeting
Ministry of Tourism
Ministry of Tourism

Good morning Colleagues … First of all, it’s a great pleasure to welcome the combined team of the Ministry of Tourism and the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority to this important meeting. Indeed, I expect this meeting to produce plans, strategies and outcomes that will set the tourism industry on an upward trajectory. From this meeting, I want new, creative ideas that will serve to considerably enhance our place in the world market as one of the leading tourism destinations globally. I want to hear what my friend, Ambassador Sir Ron Sanders, once described to me as “disruptive thinking” – thinking that questions the norms and pushes the boundaries of the imagination. You, this group assembled here, are the custodians of our nation’s economic growth. For tourism is our main industry accounting for almost 70% of our gross domestic product, earning 90% of our foreign exchange, and employing directly and indirectly the majority of people in both our public and private sector. I cannot stress enough the value and significance of tourism to every man, woman and child in our society. Without tourism, our country would be a wasteland and our people reduced to carriers of water and hewers of wood. The responsibility that we have – all of you and me, as the Minister of Tourism, – is huge. It is a sacred trust that we must fulfill on behalf of our country, and all who dwell within it. If we are to fulfill that trust, we must see it as an honorable and vital task. We must think of achieving what others believe to be impossible. I recently read something that Sir Dennis Byron, the President of the Caribbean Court of Justice said. I would like to repeat it to you, because it is relevant to you, to me, and to all of us who must succeed if our country is to flourish and our people prosper. It is this: “The most successful people in the history of the world are those who refused to give up in the face of impossible odds. Thomas Edison created the light bulb after one thousand failed attempts. Abraham Lincoln ran for public office six times before winning the Presidency. Vincent Van Gogh sold one painting in his lifetime and his most expensive work is now valued at $142.7 million. Colonel Sanders’ idea for a fried chicken restaurant was rejected 1,009 times before being accepted by an investor. Twelve publishers rejected JK Rowling’s book about a boy wizard called Harry Potter. Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job and told she was not the right fit for television”. What makes these people enormously successful is their refusal to give up; their refusal to accept that they were too small, or that they did not have enough resources. They kept focussed on the achievement of their goals and they let none persuade them that they could not overcome the obstacles. According to a Japanese proverb you must be prepared to fall seven times and get up eight. The great Muhammed Ali put it best when he said: “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential”. My friends, this is our first meeting as the leadership team. We should have had a week to explore every option; to discuss every scenario; to plan for the challenges and to map-out how we will grab the opportunities. But, our time is limited, and ours is a country in a hurry. We want results sooner not later. So, we will cram into one day today what others may want many days to accomplish. That is why I started with the theme of success and the theory of impossibility. Impossibility is potential; it is a dare not an edict; it is an opinion, not a fact. So, I want us all to embrace fully the sacred trust we carry for our nation – and, indeed, for ourselves. This nation looks to us to perform and to perform well. If we let-down the people, we let down ourselves. And we must do neither. We have many projects coming on stream. We have the responsibility to fill those rooms. But, while that is happening, we have a few existing properties that are non-performing. We have to figure out what can be done to make those properties vibrant again. We are facing fierce competition now – not only from our Caribbean neighbours, but also from further afield. How are we to meet that competition and better it? These are the issues that we must confront today, and every day after we leave here. And we must do so as a team; as a collective with a single-minded purpose, and a bold and unshakable resolve. I wish I could guarantee you that the days of little or no product development are over, and that minimal destination-advertising is a thing of the past, and that sparse public relations are over. But my government inherited a critical and perilous financial situation, and even as we are pledged to fund our tourism industry better than before, the complexities of our situation gives no guarantees. My Government will strive very hard to put the resources into tourism as the engine of our growth – the Prime Minister as the Minister of Finance has given that undertaking, and he means it. He is a banker and a businessman. He knows that there can be no profit without investment; no returns without spending. But we have a role to play. To do much with little. To do more with less. To reject that anything is impossible, and instead to show how it is possible. That is why we must spare no time or effort in making tourism vigourous and productive. To the extent that we – this team – can galvanize, energize and revitalize this industry, to that extent we will deliver what is expected of us; we will generate more revenues and earn a larger share of the resources to make our country flourish and our people prosper. Like many of you, I continue to expand my own knowledge of the business of tourism and I’m learning quickly. As we have our exchange today, I want you to be open with the facilitators and with yourselves. Our overriding objective of the next two days is focused on the plans that will be produced and effective means by which – as a team – we will deliver concrete and measurable results for the benefit of our country. In any free market economy we continually face challenges – – tourism is no different – – but how we view these challenges defines us! Do we choose to see the challenges as ‘opportunities” or as ‘obstacles’? Are they a moment to despair or a chance to do something different? A great deal of wasted energy can be spent focusing on a negative mindset which takes delight in complaining – mindsets like “I can’t”, “I won’t”, “I don’t want to” and “I shouldn’t have to”. But, we should all recall what put Barack Obama – an American Black in the White House. It was a simple phrase, but a powerful one in which he and millions of Americans placed their belief. Three little words that moved an entire nation – “Yes, we can”. Well, yes, we can too. And we can do it best, if we do it together. Your role now is to roll up your sleeves and believe not only in the value and importance of the sacred trust that has been given to you by this nation, but also to believe in yourselves that – yes, you can. And, you will. My friends, our task is agreed. The path is clear and the objective looms large ahead of us. Let us run with resolve the race that is set before us. Let us get tourism to work. Thank you.