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.

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Peter Holmberg to Defend his Title in Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge at Antigua Sailing Week

The organisers of Antigua Sailing Week are delighted to announce that
the Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge will be returning to this year’s Lay Day
events on Pigeon Beach on Wednesday, April 29.
The Challenge is a one-day invitational one-design racing event featuring
24-foot RS Elite sailboats and offering top-quality racing for eight highly
qualified skippers and their teams. Racing will take place in close
proximity to Pigeon Beach inside Falmouth Harbour to provide maximum
spectating opportunities from the beach as well as from the water. For
those watching from the beach, Nonsuch Bay Resort will have the grill fired
up in its hospitality tent with delicacies from Resort Chef Michael
Husbands available for purchase.
Olympic medallist and America’s Cup winner Peter Holmberg was last year’s
Challenge winner and he will be returning to Antigua again this year to
defend his title. “The Antigua Sailing Week organisers invited me to
participate in the Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge last year and I’m really
pleased I accepted the invitation. They provided well organised racing
close to Pigeon Beach which allowed us to really showcase our sport of
sailing. Although we took the racing seriously, we had a lot of fun and it
was a great way to spend Lay Day. I’ll definitely be back to defend my
title this year,” said Holmberg.

Peter Holmberg will be back to defend his title in the 2015
Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge at Antigua Sailing Week

Other teams signed up to participate in the Challenge this year include *Team
Phaedo^3* which has been breaking records around the Caribbean in its MOD
70 since its arrival in Antigua in February this year. There will be two
all-women’s teams including *Performance Yacht Charter* with skipper Lucy
Reynolds, and a *KH+P yachtcharter team* with Nicole Lameter at the helm. T*he
Kick ‘Em Jenny team f*rom St. Maarten will be participating this year as
will a team from *At Last . . .* with skipper Pietro Corbucci. Rounding out
the eight-team line up will be two teams that won a place to enter the
Challenge at the Final of the Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Summer Series held last
December. Those teams will be led by Marc Fitzgerald of *Sojana* and Martin
Beck who owns an RS Elite and is keenly promoting growth of the RS Elite
class in Antigua.
Beach activities will get underway from 12:00 noon and racing will start
promptly at 1:00 pm. There will be two qualifying series of four teams each
with a maximum of three races each of approximately 15 to 20 minutes in
length. The top two boats from each series will go to the final series
which will also consist of a final three races.

The event came to life as a result of ideas thrown around by Mark Whinney,
Marketing Director of *Nonsuch Bay Resort.* Mark loves the event and says:
“Residents and guests at Nonsuch Bay Resort were getting so much enjoyment
out of the RS Elites that we wanted to create a special event to provide
greater exposure to both the RS Elite one-design fleet and of course to
Nonsuch Bay Resort itself. We all agreed that there was no better time to
do that than during Antigua Sailing Week. Racing in the Elites has become
so popular that Nonsuch Bay has expanded its fleet over the past year and
sailors have begun seeking out invitations to participate in the RS Elite
Challenge on Lay Day every year.”
There will be live commentary from the beach throughout the event so
spectators can easily follow the on-the-water action. A prize giving will
take place at about 5:00 pm with trophies being awarded to the top three
finishers with a prize for the overall winner of a week’s bed and breakfast
accommodation at Nonsuch Bay Resort for two people, including use of all
sailing equipment and facilities.
Simultaneously along the beach from mid-day DJs Easy P and Professor Irish
will heat things up with beach games from DJ Sporty including cricket,
football, a hot bikini competition, lime and spoon race, tug-o-war and
more. Shuttles to the beach will run from Antigua Yacht Club all day and
into the night.

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.

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.

NEW STRATEGY FOR TOURISM” ANNOUNCES TOURISM MINISTER, HON. ASOT MICHAEL

(St. John’s, Antigua) – Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Asot Michael, has charged technicians in The Ministry of Tourism and The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, to be custodians of the country’s economic growth.

“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.”

The Tourism Minister made the remarks today as he met with over thirty-five technicians from the product development and marketing bodies of the organisations under his leadership, in a two day strategy and planning workshop.

Tourism senior officials from Antigua and Barbuda as well as the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority’s Overseas Office converged in the destination for the sessions. Included were CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority – Colin C. James, Rohan Hector – Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Jean Marc Flambert – UK& Europe VP of Sales and Marketing, Marie Walker – North American VP of Sales and Marketing, Cherrie Osborne, UK & Europe Director of Tourism, Charmaine Spencer – Regional Marketing Mananger, Pauline Frederick-Hunte, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, ShirleneNibbs -Tourism Consultant and other consultant teams.

The Tourism Minister in his foreword to the team said:

“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.”

“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?”, said the Minister.

The strategy session was led by consultant,ShirleneNibbs. Nibbs working with the team, presented the strategic overview of the tourism industry having made an assessment of the vision, mission and brand promise for the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism organisations.

Technicians focused on identifying key areas of the product that were critical to the success of the industry and on immediate plans of action to be taken. An evaluation was done on the accommodation, yachting, cruise and transportation sectors as well as on the visitor experience.

CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin C. James also announced new hotel developments coming on stream in the near future, and the economic opportunities available.

Airlift and Airport developments presentations highlighted new flights for Antigua and Barbuda and increases in airlift within various markets. “The destination is well served. We continue to make sure we grow the airlift, and the new airport allows us to grow this airlift from non-traditional markets,” said James. James also announced Eden Viaggi, the new Italian Charter for the destination which will be flying to Antigua from December come 2015.

Also announced today, were the 2015 marketing plans for the North American market and the UK, Ireland and Europe market. Within the UK, plans have been designed to target travellers with the potential to travel during the off peak periods of May/June and September to October, while in the North American market the focus will be on repositioning and recreating the buzz for the destination.

The tourism strategy and planning sessions being held have a number of objectives objective is to deliver plans to galvanize, energize and revitalize the industry; to create concrete and measurable results, generate more revenues and earn a larger share of the resources for the benefit of our country.

Day two of the session continues tomorrow with PR Plan Presentations, technicians engaging in further group interactive planning sessions, and a walk-through of the new airport terminfor Antigua.

Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Delegation attends multiple conferences in Berlin

asot michael

(St. John’s, Antigua ) The Honourable Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism,Economic Development, Investment, and Energy completed his inaugural visit to Berlin, Germany last week. The Minister attended three conferences to seek new hotel investment and forge closer relationships with German tour operators and airline partners. Travelling with the Minister as part of his delegation were Ambassador Brian Challenger, Mr. Rohan Hector – Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority; Hans Kupin – Economic Envoy for Antigua and Barbuda in Germany, new Vice President of Sales and Marketing for UK and Europe Mr. Jean-Marc Flambert and Cherrie Osborne – Director of Tourism UK & Europe

Minister Michael and Ambassador Challenger first attended, the CARICOM Energy Conference, which explored Green Energy opportunities for making the country self-sufficient in this area. Minister Michael, then met with other
Ministers of Tourism at the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) now in its 18th year. The forum included, a round table session where Ministers of Tourism discussed: critical issues; strategies for tourism investment promotions and reasons for global investors to invest. Minister Michael made a presentation to the session, which was recorded and along with the findings from the forum will be published to an audience of over 50,000 potential investors.

The forum also included a two-day event where Minister Michael, secured one on one meetings with the Regional Presidents of some of the world leading hotel chains – IHG, Wyndham, Viceroy, Marriott, Hilton, Park Inn and Starwood. In a separate meeting Minister Michael met with Michael Henssler, Managing Director, Key International Hotels management Co. Ltd and Xavier Destribats – President Europe to finalise a deal with the Kempinsky hotel group.

After some extremely positive meetings aimed at securing new hotel investment for Antigua and Barbuda, Minister Michael also participated in ITB one of the world’s largest annual business to business and consumer tourism event held in Berlin each year. This year’s event attracted over 174,000 trade and consumer visitors. In 2014 Germany saw the largest increase from Europe to Antigua and Barbuda, recording a growth of 9%.

The destination was supported by co exhibiting partners including – Antigua Yacht Club Marina, Blue Waters, Hermitage Bay, Sugar Ridge, Jolly Beach Resort and Spa, National Tours and The Inn at English Harbour.

The teams conducted a packed schedule of successful meetings with key European based Tourism Executives and Airlines partners such as Condor, TUI and Dertour, Meires Weltereisen, yachting specialists – Sailing Classics, KH +P Yacht Charter, Viaggidea (Italy), Eden Viaggi (Italy), Thomas Cook (Germany) as well as numerous new tour operators.

The destination has clearly set its sights on making greater inroads into the European market. Bookings from Germany to the Caribbean are up 20% for 2015 with Antigua and Barbuda also seeing similar growth trends. Overall the German Tour operators were optimistic about the future and want to continuing working closely with the destination to grow the business even further. Condor once again confirmed its weekly direct flight for winter 15/16.

A notable achievement at this year’s ITB was the commitment given by Eden Viaggi an Italian tour operator to again have direct flights from Milan to Antigua with a year round charter with 130 seats weekly to the destination. This flight will be shared with the Dominican Republic to service their Eden Village club and will starting in December 2015.

In summarising the week’s activities, Minister Michael commented that “Our intense week of tourism promotions and investment conferences presented me with a unique opportunity to introduce and promote Antigua and Barbuda to some of the key movers and shakers in the Global Hotel Investment and European Tourism arena. Significant progress has been made which will ultimately contribute to growing the industry”.