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.

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.

UusbFi-E0VkYJ7z04q7Nstq1Krk-AdKzEGtPD1qqAnc

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.

 Untitled3

“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).

PM Browne joins thousands to Honour United Nations and individuals and organizations for Humanitarian Work

NEW YORK, NY – USA – 29th September, 2015……Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne and First Lady Maria Browne on Sunday joined thousands in New York City for the South South Awards, considered the world’s foremost global development event to celebrate the United Nations 70th Anniversary and honour individuals for their global initiatives

.PMgroup1

During the event, which honoured distinguished countries, individuals and organizations that embody transformative sustainable development worldwide; particularly in the areas of poverty reduction, education advancement and humanitarian impact, Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne presented a number of the major awards and commended the organizers for recognizing the contributions of individuals and organisations for their work in making the world a better place for humanity.

The event featured some of the world’s leading performers including   keyboardist Ray Chew, music producer for the reality television show “Dancing With The Stars,” and percussion­ist/drummer Sheila E.

In addition, musician Paul Shaffer was honoured with the Cultural achievement Award and lend “the same sparkle and inimitable spirit he gave television audiences for 33 years as the musical director of The Late Show with David Letterman.”

Academy award winners Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, and Forrest Whitaker were among the elite who also made presentations.

We are pleased to present photos from the event which is co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations.

Digital photo by Yendi Lynch:

Maurice F. Merchant

Director-General of Communications

Office of the Prime Minister

Queen Elizabeth Highway

St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda

Tel: 268.462.9766

Fax: 268.462.3225

Email: maurice.merchant@ab.gov.ag

maurice.merchant@gmail.com

CIP Unit Rejects Malicious Article – Moncreif-Scott fingered

asot michhael caricom1

ST.JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda The Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) rejects the article ‘Congressman McCaul: Antigua clamoring to sell passports to Syrian refugees who then make the ‘jump’ to the US Virgin Island,’ under the name of John McCarthy published by the online news portal Virgin Islands Free Press.

It is a complete fabrication and malicious.  It falsely misrepresents remarks by US Congressman McCaul.  At no time did Congressman McCaul make any allegation that Antigua and Barbuda was clamoring to sell passports to Syrians to jump to the US.

The CIP also notes that the identical, word-for-word article also appeared in an on-line publication, Mondaq, under the name of Ian Moncrief-Scott . This clearly indicates that either John McCarthy or Ian Moncrief-Scott are one and the same person or there is a campaign between them to smear Antigua and Barbuda.   Moncreif-Scott has been writing villainous articles about both the UPP and ABLP governments for over 12 years.

Dealing with the false claims in the article, the following points are relevant:

  • The Government and CIP do not sell passports. Passports are not for sale.
  • No passport has been sold to any person far less refugees from Syria.
  • A number of Syrian nationals were detained by the Immigration authorities on suspicion that they may attempt to go to the USVI. But none were holders of Antigua and Barbuda passports of any kind.
  • The CIP is not handled or directed by the Prime Minister.  A Review Committee of qualified professionals from various sectors, and varying backgrounds manage the CIP.
  • The CIP and the citizenship programmes like in every other democratic country, is regulated by law, namely the Citizenship by Investment Act of 2013.
  • Citizenship is not granted unless due diligence takes place by internationally respected due diligence agents
  • This due diligence process has developed to include not only local and independent international due diligence providers, but also checks with other international bodies and Governments.
  • Only after the due diligence is complete, are the applications sent to the Minister and Cabinet for final approval.

The suggestion by the author that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda has put a price on its independence by embarking on the CIP is nonsensical.   The Nation of Antigua and Barbuda joined many other countries that have citizenship through investment programmes, including Canada, the United States, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Malta as well as others in the Caribbean. These countries have not been accused of compromising their Independence.

Importantly, Antigua and Barbuda Passports are presented to CIP qualifiers for an initial period of 5 years.   Only during this time, any person granted citizenship under the CIP is subject to re-evaluation for cause, and revoked where necessary.

The CIP believes that this assault on the integrity of the CIP and the State of Antigua and Barbuda is motivated by malice of the writer who has consistently over the last 15 years or more attacked both the UPP and ABLP governments. (Ends)

Maurice F. Merchant

Director-General of Communications

Office of the Prime Minister

Queen Elizabeth Highway

St. Johns, ANTIGUA and BARBUDA

Tel: 268.462.9766

Fax: 268.462.3225

Email: maurice.merchant@ab.gov.ag

Maurice.merchant@gmail.com

Antigua & Barbuda opens new & modern International airport

(St. John’s, Antigua) – The twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda has opened one of the most modern international airports in the Caribbean.  The 23,000 square meters new terminal for the destination, more than doubles the capacity of the adjacent previous terminal, making way for an increase in passenger use of the V.C. Bird International Airport as an all important airline hub, and the  largest gateway to the Eastern Caribbean.

There are 4 jet bridges, and a unique, state of the art baggage sorting and scanning system. With faster immigration processing times, user friendly innovations and features, the near US$100 million terminal that opens for operation on August 24, will greatly improve the visitor experience, allowing travellers expedited access to Antigua and Barbuda, and maximum sun time on the destination’s 365 beaches.

new terminal international airport

For those departing, there are 46 check-in counters and 15 self-check in kiosks. A bigger departure lounge, offers more space to relax, modern comforts, multiple gates, and an enhanced shopping and dining experience. The facility houses 30 retail units including International brands Dufry, Colombian Emeralds, Café Britt, Café Player and Subway. Free wifi and Internet service is available for the tech savvy traveler, while travelers with pets, can take advantage of the airport’s pet friendliness by enjoying the pet restroom.

There are three brand, new lounges: A VVIP lounge, a VIP lounge and an Airport Executive Lounge. The airport executive lounge, with outdoor balcony offers remarkable views of two of Antigua’s offshore islands – Long Island and Maiden Island, giving passengers the opportunity to bask in the last rays of sunshine before their flight.

The modern facility, funded by China EXIM Bank concessional loan, and by a Chinese Government Interest Free Loan, has also been specially designed with elevators, escalators and ramps, to serve the travel needs of passengers requiring special assistance.

The terminal building will also see an innovative feature intended to further advance Antigua and Barbuda’s reputation as a leader in sustainable tourism and sustainable development within the region.  This involves the establishment of a 3 mega watt solar photovoltaic facility, to provide green energy solutions to the considerable demand for electrical energy in the new terminal.

Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Energy and Investment, The Honourable Asot Michael says, “What we are celebrating today as we cut a ribbon is the largest single infrastructural investment in the development of our young nation. This facility, is one that we can all be proud of and of which I am confident will help ensure the bright and successful future of Antigua and Barbuda. It will further cement our position as a premier tourist destination of choice in the Caribbean.

“We are responsible for ensuring a major part of this, by ensuring that our islands are exactly what we promise: welcoming, beautiful, safe and enjoyable; from the point when visitors touch down to their departure we will ensure that their experience is one that is unforgettable and that they take back only warm and lasting memories of their time spent in our beautiful country.”

For the upcoming winter season, JetBlue Airways will begin direct service to Antigua’s new international airport, from New York’s JFK International Airport on November 5. In December, Alitalia will begin weekly service from Milan, and Seaborne Airlines will begin direct service from San Juan.

The V.C. Bird International Airport currently offers service to more than fifty destinations worldwide on Air Canada, American Airlines, British Airways, Caribbean Airlines, Condor, Delta Airlines, LIAT (1974) Ltd, St Barth Commuter, ABM Air, Thomas Cook Airlines, Tradewinds Aviation, United Airlines, US Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways and WestJet.

The new terminal will operate 24 hours a day.  The previous terminal building which processed over 860,000 passengers per year, will continue be used partially for administrative purposes.

The new and greatly improved V. C. Bird International Airport terminal is the latest jewel in the country’s tourism crown, and will position Antigua and Barbuda for unprecedented growth in the travel and tourism industry.

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.