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.

ASOT MICHAEL at 4th Annual Sandals Resort Industry

Antigua-logo-640x360

HONORABLE ASOT A. MICHAEL
Minister of Tourism, Economic Development,
Investment and Energy
of Antigua and Barbuda
4th Annual Sandals Resort Industry
Appreciation Banquet Awards
Keynote Address
Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa
Thursday, June 2nd 2016
Members of Parliament;
Members of The Diplomatic Corps,
Chairman of Sandals: Dr. the Hon. Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart OJ, CD CEO of Sandals, Mr. Adam Stewart,Other Distinguished Guests, Esteemed members of the media,

Good evening and warm greetings to all…

I am very pleased to be here for this 4th Annual Sandals Resorts Industry Appreciation event.

I am especially delighted that tonight we honour the best and brightest in the Tourism Industry.

In the words of late US President John F Kennedy: “We must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Let me start by acknowledging the diligence and creativity of tonight’s awardees who have not only uttered words, but who live by them.

The standards set by Sandals for its management and staff are extremely high.

Therefore, we know that the awardees are of the highest calibre and they deserve our deepest admiration and our loudest applause.

Ladies and Gentlemen, particularly those who are visiting our shores, I welcome you to this event and to Antigua and Barbuda.

I especially welcome the more than 100 principals of the top global tour operators as well as travel partners and friends of Sandals Resorts.

It is also good to see Butch Stewart and Adam Stewart.

We are pleased to see you in this, your second Caribbean home.

You have honoured us by choosing Antigua Sandals Grande Resort and Spa as the host for this event.

We view that choice as a tribute to our country and to your own high regard for this resort as a dazzling jewel in your shining crown.

Antigua and Barbuda are incredibly proud to be the home of one of a select chosen few of the Sandals Resorts brand. Sandals Resorts has time and again throughout the years, since it was founded in 1981, been the leader in the important tourism product of the “all-inclusives”.

Let me congratulate you on your wisdom and good taste!

Sandals Resorts are the leader – not the follower in the industry. As Butch has said before, “Imitation is not innovation. Exceeding expectations remains the philosophy that drives anything we can do.” Sandals Resorts are at the highest echelon in providing service. Whether it is providing the best beaches in the Caribbean – which we know something about here in Antigua and Barbuda as we have 365 of them – or providing more quality amenities and services than any competition across the world. They are continually innovating and improving to provide the best experience possible to their guests. And, of course, above anything else is the Sandals hospitality for which not only is Sandals Resorts renowned for, but has been recognized and awarded time and again throughout the years.

None of this would be possible without the vision and leadership of Butch Stewart, often called the ‘King of All-Inclusive Resorts,’ the ‘Cupid of the Caribbean,’ and the ‘Master of Marketing.’

I know tonight is not about Butch, but it would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to acknowledge his vision and leadership, without which Antigua and Barbuda would not have one of the leading properties in the world as a draw to attract thousands of tourists annually.

Not unusual, but still incredibly notable, Butch was born in modest beginnings and began working at the young age of 17 as a salesman, where, through hard work he quickly achieved success that allowed him to leave and founded his first business, Appliance Traders, Ltd in 1968.

Through his vision, and belief in this vision, he bought his first hotel in Montego Bay Jamaica, which he renovated and re-opened as the all-inclusive Sandals Resort Beach Club. As we all know, the hotel business is not for the faint of heart, and as providing the best service for all of his guests was part of Butch’s business model from the beginning. In spite of the initial hiccups, he stuck with the plan and through faith and perseverance, was able to build a profitable model for Sandals Resorts. By 1984 he was appointed president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, for his contribution to the industry and has never looked back.

Ladies and Gentlemen in 1991, a marriage made in heaven so to speak was started when Antigua and Barbuda was blessed in that we were the first Sandals resort to open outside of Jamaica. So this evening is particularly special for us as we as a nation are celebrating 25 years of a successful tourism nuptial with the Sandals Antigua Grande Resort this evening as well.
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We in Antigua and Barbuda are very proud that this year marks the 25th year of Sandals’ operations in our country.

It is a silver anniversary that is worthy of commemoration, for it has been mutually beneficial.

Antigua has benefitted from Sandals, and in return Sandals has gained from Antigua.

We have had a ‘win-win’ relationship.

It is that winning relationship that we wish to continue.

That is why, as we are in the final stages of negotiating a new ‘Beaches’ resort, we look forward to reaching an equitable agreement that is fair to all stakeholders.

The Gaston-Browne government is determined to make this country the economic powerhouse of the Caribbean.

As we succeed in that quest, so too will the business sector in our community succeed.

The rising tide that we are creating will lift all boats – Sandals and the new Beaches included.

With a fair and equitable arrangement for a ‘Beaches’ resort in Antigua, tangible and sustainable benefits will accrue to the developers, the investors, and the country as a whole.

There could be no better prescription for another prosperous Butch Stewart property in a dynamic and flourishing Caribbean economy.

We look forward to announcing very shortly to the people of Antigua and Barbuda and the travel and tourism industry worldwide, that Antigua and Butch Stewart have celebrated their 25th anniversary with a gift of another world-beating, premier ‘Beaches’ resort.

My friends, I believe it is already well known that the Antigua and Barbuda economy is one of the few in the Caribbean that is growing at an appreciable rate.

We recognise that tourism is one of the main drivers of that growth.

We know, too, that tourism has the potential to be the continued locomotive of our growth.

That is why my government is investing heavily in it.

We want to give the travel and tourism industry, the infrastructure that it needs to build a superior product for the world’s market.

As you know, we have invested in a new airport terminal building with all the latest and most modern facilities.

It offers the latest in travel technology from arrival to departure, from WiFi to one of the fastest baggage delivery times in the Caribbean.

Through this investment have attracted more flights from the US, Canada and Europe.

The success to which these flights have contributed is remarkable.

Thus far this year, Antigua and Barbuda is experiencing double-digit year-over-year growth each month.

This has benefitted the entire tourism industry, including Sandals, bringing a healthier financial performance to all.

We have every reason to be pleased and to be encouraged.

But, we do not regard what we have achieved as anything more than the beginning of a long journey.

We will not rest on our laurels.

We will continue to row with vigour the boat of our economy to the shores of benefits for all.

In all this, I don’t want any of you to be spectators, cheering our diligence and success.

I call on you to join us; to become part of our success story; to embrace the win-win relationship that we are happy to offer.

Now I would like make a few remarks about Sandals and its stellar example of good Corporate Responsibility.

Sandals launched the Sandals Corporate University in 2012.

The SCU represents Sandals Resorts’ commitment to the professional development of its employees by providing them the opportunity to further advance their careers and knowledge.

Equally, the Sandals Foundation is improving the lives and residents in all eight islands of the Caribbean where the Resorts are located.

These investments pay dividends in the loyalty of workers; in their hard work and in their readiness to go the extra mile.

No wonder, Sandals is regularly recognized as the Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Brand, and wins awards at the elite travel award ceremonies around the world.

The Sandals Resorts brand is without a doubt, not just a leading Caribbean hotel brand, but a leading hotel brand worldwide – leading the standard for providing guests the best service possible.

That is why it is especially important that tonight we join Sandals in recognizing those that have been a part of this success.

They are sure to be part of many more future decades of success for Sandals Resort.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in our partnership with Sandals and all the stakeholders in the industry, hospitality remains our top priority; it is intrinsic to our culture.

To all the visiting tourism officials and tour operators, tourism partners, and to the management and staff of Sandals Resorts, we trust that you will shine brighter, and brighter.

Also, we urge you to return to Antigua and Barbuda, hopefully, time and again. We promise you, that with our partnership with Sandals and all the stakeholders in the industry, hospitality will remain our top priority, intrinsic to our culture, while bringing to you the supreme atmosphere in which commendation and appreciation are always part of your experience.

Again I express our profound admiration and respect to all the awardees at this event.

The success that you celebrate tonight is a matter of great pride to the people of this grateful country.

May God continue to bless your efforts and bless our beloved nation of Antigua and Barbuda.

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

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

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

CARICOM Heads
CARICOM Heads

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

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

Ministry of Tourism receives Courtesy Call from His Excellency Bahij Mansour, Israeli Ambassador

May 22, 2015…St. John’s, Antigua….His Excellency Bahij Mansour, Ambassador to Israel paid a courtesy call on the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy on Wednesday.

The Ambassador said, “I am overjoyed to be here with you and I hope that the relationship between Antigua and Barbuda and the State of Israel can deepen cooperation, especially in Tourism, Agriculture, and Energy. I am here to reinforce this relationship and I hope that in the coming years, the relationship will grow stronger.

Ambassador Mansour met with Tourism Minister Honorable Asot Michael, Tourism Consultant Shirlene Nibbs, and Advisor on Energy Brian Challenger, Solicitor General Lebrecht Hessey and Project Manager St. Clair Soleyn.

Israeli Ambassdor with asot michael

Minister Michael said “with the Ministry’s thrust to increased Tourism arrivals and having a more diverse source market, he is looking forward to Israelis visitors making Antigua and Barbuda a destination of choice. With this as a major focus the waiver of visas for visitors from Israel will be looked into. Ambassador Mansour stated, “Once agreements are put in place more tourists will be able to visit Antigua“. Another area Minister Michael spoke on was that of renewable energy and he looked forward to Technical support from Israel that has a lot of expertise in the area.

Israel Ambassador & Tourism Officials

In the area of Tourism Education and Development the Ambassador indicated that Israel provided quite a few scholarships for Caribbean Nationals. The exploration of offering courses in Kosher Cuisine was discussed. The Ambassador indicated with the inclusion of Jewish cuisine or offerings on the menu in hotels, this will indeed be another plus to lure visitors from Israel to Antigua and Barbuda.
The Ambassador is also responsible for Grenada, Dominica, Haiti, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.

Caribbean’s New Piracy Problem

tv-

About 98 channels are currently being pirated by Jamaican cable TV operators.

This is what Chairman of the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica (BCJ) shared in the April 24th Press Conference called to talk about these matters and to announce actions against the almost 50 cable TV operators.

As the Chairman noted, this move is to protect Jamaica’s reputation so that this country is not seen as a “rogue nation”.

In its first phase of action toward copyright compliance, the BCJ has issued a directive to cable operators.

As of the end of May, 2015 they must remove nineteen (19) of the 98 pirated channels.

That’s only approximately 20 percent of those being pirated.

To be removed from service delivery to cable T, subscribers are 9 from the Encore Group of channels, 5 from Showtime, 4 from Starz and the Movie Channel Extra.

These are cable channels out of the United States of America. Cable TV subscribers in Jamaica are generally dissatisfied with this turn of events. They hold firm that they are entitled to the channels since they’ve been paying for them in their cable packages.

In response to probes from journalists at the press conference, the Commission explained that phase one will be evaluated and that there will be continued dialogue with the cable operators. The BCJ opined that there may not even be a phase 2 in this exercise of protecting intellectual property and preventing copyright infringement.

Its Executive Director argued for a new model for programme/channel distribution.

One appreciates the arguments for new models in view of the erosion of geographical boundaries brought about by the Internet, Satellites and other communication technologies.

After all, my own engagement with the press conference was via its live stream. I deliberately use the word ‘engagement’ because not only was I watching the event via my computer but I was also actively reporting on it via Twitter and inserting my own comments over the course of the one hour press conference and some time thereafter.

Questions and comments from those physically present at the press conference as well as those to me via Twitter, sent me back to the 1980s when cable TV made its entre on to the Jamaican landscape.

A large satellite dish was set up atop the partially Government-owned Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, with plans to feed cable channels to hotel guests. I do not know how that went.

However, by the late 1980s community cable TV started to take root. A combination of politics, poverty and opportunism prevailed to enhance the growth and development of community cable TV in Jamaica where the latter was described as ‘the poor man’s dish.”

Caribbean Free-to-Air TV Stations & Signal Piracy

Note, though, that signal piracy of US programmes did not originate with cable TV in Jamaica. Writing in the New York Times, October 13, 1983, in an article titled ‘Foreign ‘Piracy’ of TV Signals Stir Controversy’, Peter Kerr complained that,

“In the last two years, United States satellite signals carrying entertainment and news programs intended for cable television viewers in this country have been intercepted by a growing number of television stations throughout the Caribbean and Central America and broadcast without authorization.”

Those television stations were free-to-air and predominantly, if not wholly, Government owned. So, we see that this problem faced by the BCJ is not new. It’s been there for over 30 years. And too, it is not peculiar to Jamaica or to cable TV.

In his article Kerr further commented that,

“In Jamaica, for example, the Government-owned broadcast company last summer showed… ”Rocky III” and other films that were not yet released to Jamaican movie theatres.

The television broadcasts, which were taken without permission from the satellite transmissions of United States cable networks, caused a 50 percent drop in revenues for Jamaican theatres, according to Donald Graham…”

Jamaican Business Man of Carib Theatre fame, Douglas Graham, was fighting for the survival of his business. The Government of Jamaica was brought to book by the USA and threatened that trade privileges under the Caribbean Basin Initiative would be withheld.

Caribbean TV Stations Push Back

TV Stations in the Caribbean region and elsewhere pushed back with arguments that:

  • They were willing to pay but US copyright holders were not willing to enter into agreements.
  • US satellites carrying cable channels were ‘infringing’/violating the air space of other countries and so these countries could rightly take these signals.

Whereas in the early 1980s and for some time thereafter, piracy of US satellite signals carrying TV programmes was wrapped up with the survival of movie theatres in Jamaica, moving into the late 1980s, the battle began in earnest between free-to-air TV and cable TV.

Origins of Cable TV in Jamaica & Competition

While in the USA, cable operations came about in order to boost signals from US free-to-air TV (FTA TV) to viewers in remote areas, in Jamaica and some other Caribbean countries, cable operators developed business models in direct competition with FTA TV on at least 2 levels:

  • Competing with Government-owned free-to-air station, JBC TV in the case of Jamaica, for pirated satellite signals;
  • Competing with FTA TV for viewers by offering a more varied viewing experience. After all, how could a single channel FTA station such as JBC TV compete with cable TV’s multiple channel offerings?

Who Will Slay the Dragon?

And now the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica is facing-down the challenge of copyright infringement and trying to save this island’s reputation.

It is a challenge that is over 30 years old. It did not take President Barack Obama’s visit to alert us of the situation and its trade implications.

Eons ago then President of the USA, Ronald Reagan, and then head of the Motion Picture Association of America, Jack Valenti, did just that. Both men are now deceased but the challenge continues.

Who will slay the Dragon of signal piracy? Perhaps while we await changes in programme/channel distribution models, the BCJ needs to carefully craft a Phase 2 and even a Phase 3 of its action plan for copyright compliance.

After all by their own report, BCJ’s recent directive only addresses about 20 percent of channels being pirated. What of the 80 percent? Cable subscribers want to know.

Dr Marcia Forbes, a Caribbean Journal contributor, is a media specialist, the co-owner of multimedia production company Phase 3 Productions Ltd and Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Caribbean Institute of Media & Communication, University of the West Indies, Mona. She is the author of Music, Media & Adolescent Sexuality in Jamaica and the recently-released Streaming: Social Media, Mobile Lifestyles.

Rum Journal: Finding a Great Lobby Bar in Santo Domingo

The lobby bar. At most hotels, it sets the tone for everything — it’s the first part of the hotel you notice.

It welcomes you. It is the central meeting point. This is where you learn what a hotel is.

That’s particularly true in a hotel in an urban area.

lob

At the newly-opened Sheraton Santo Domingo, the lobby is simply grand.

There are high, seemingly endless ceilings, sweeping pillars, a marvelous chandelier.

lobrum

And at the centre is the bar, a crisp, modern square design with a nice little rum selection, a large-screen TV perfect for watching beisbol and a towering back wall.

As with many bars in the Dominican Republic, you can’t go wrong with Barcelo Imperial, a rich, caramel-accented rum that’s remarkably refreshing.

It’s functional, but it’s also energetic.

A bit like this bar.