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.

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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.

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“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).

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.

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

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.

Asot Michael gives Tribute to Ms. Rachel Jerome Henry Ruchards

TRIBUTE BY THE HONOURABLE ASOT A. MICHAEL, AT THE FUNERAL FOR MS. RACHAEL JEROME HENRY RICHARDS

ON

THURSDAY, 30TH APRIL, 2015

AT THE ST. ANDREW’S ANGLICAN CHURCH LOCATED AT FORT ROAD

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Good afternoon, Church.

Farewell to you and the youth I have spent with you.
It was but yesterday we met in a dream
You have sung to me…and built a tower in the sky.
But now our dream is over… and we must part.
If in the twilight of memory we
should meet once more,
we shall speak again together, and you
shall sing to me a deeper song.
And if our hands should meet in
another dream, we shall build
another tower in the sky.”

Friends and family, these are the parting words of Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, poet of the poor Kadisha Valley in northeastern Lebanon.

He was one of the spiritual artists of the western world.

Today, we have gathered to bid farewell to Rachael Jerome Henry Richards, whom I loved dearly and whose love for all in her family is legendary. She was kind and generous, calm and caring, unflappable and unpretentious. She possessed the generosity of a Saint and the firm hand of a Mother Theresa. God has blest us by sending her to be our adult guardian and peacemaker; and, we thank the Almighty for his everlasting goodness.

It is often the case that the love which flows among the members of a household or a family can indeed be traced to those at the very pinnacle of that family. Love often obeys the law of gravity, percolating downwards effortlessly. But, human love can also generate outwards and upwards, flowing against the tide just as easily, whether there are barriers or defenses. Rachael was able to cause love to spread out in every direction. She was loved, as she loved others; strangers loved her and she shared great joy and glad tidings with those she encountered. For her the season of Christmas was every day.

On behalf of my own family, I begin by expressing condolences to the family of Rachael Jerome Henry Richards. She was an extraordinary woman whose death has left the community, the Constituency of St. John’s Rural East and this country poorer.

To the entire family of Ms. Richards, her children, her grandchildren, her relatives and friends, I want to assure you that I feel your pain. I feel the emptiness, the pain, the disappointment which naturally accompanies death. Death always robs families of loved-ones and, no matter the age of the deceased, the pain and emptiness are almost always beyond endurance. It is our belief in God and the promise of a better life in the hereafter that help to soften that pain. We feel your pain.

Our presence here, in God’s House, is intended to convey the assurance that we all need God when death strikes its final blow.

But death has not struck its final blow. The children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are a part of the living memory of our Rachael. She did as God commanded. Our sister was the beloved mother of five children.

Like the Antiguan woman then and now, she was very strong. She became the matriarch of her family and ensured their well-being.

Rachael, whom was like a second sister to my mother, Mrs. Josette Michael, worked closely with my family for over twelve years. My mother when recollecting on Rachael’s time with us, would speak of her with great fondness. She was one of the most kind-hearted, generous, honest, sincere person you will ever know. It was a sad but joyous day, my mother used to reminisce, when Rachael left our employ to pursue greater opportunities to support her beloved children.

Rachael embarked on the most unlikely, but in the end most rewarding career part as an employee of Her Majesty’s Prison, where she worked diligently for over thirty (30) years. I think many of Rachael’s co-workers could testify to her character. She considered her position in the Prison as her “niche” in life. She loved the responsibility it gave her, the opportunity to learn and self-improve – either through experience or the trials she endured in order to do her job better – and she loved the people that she worked with.

Rachael’s dedication and perseverance shone through in everything she did. Her commitment to her work and to her friends will be greatly missed. Rachael’s love and devotion to her family will always be dearly remembered. Her examples of love, caring and determination lives as an inspiration to all of us.

Our religion also seeks to comfort us in death.
Those of us who are Christians believe that faith in the Almighty will cause us, on Judgment Day, to see that faces of our loved ones who have gone before. We believe that to love God, to do good works, and to live a life of charity will cause God to look favorably upon us after death, and that as a reward for goodness, we will see God’s face.

If this is indeed the formula for everlasting salvation, then I am compelled to believe that Rachael Henry Richards has already been welcomed into the arms of her Jesus. She has seen God’s face.

When Rachael was an infant, born on April 30th, 1938, sugarcane and cotton were all around us. Antigua and Barbuda was one huge patchwork of sugarcane and cotton plantations. Poverty was also everywhere, since wages and salaries were meager.

Rachael’s parents could only pray that she might have an opportunity at moving beyond Primary School. Rachael’s future was limited by the opportunities available then.

The transformation of Antigua and Barbuda from a place of extreme poverty to a modern developing island-state began in the earnest after 1976. The transformative years brought greater wealth and greater opportunities. Rachael wished for her children to make the best of the opportunities. And they did!

The value of a person’s life to her family, community or nation is often not measureable until the moment of death.

Human culture, the world over, has a tendency to focus on valued human traits at the moment of death. Rachael is no exception. We remember her energy and her forthrightness, her strength and determination

Today, as we grieve over Rachael’s passing, we recall the strength, the determination, the faith, the love, the unyielding dedication to her family, and their love for her. We recall her struggles, her victories, her many successes.

We may have suffered a great loss. But, she fought the good fight, she did God’s will, she pressed forward to make the best of the opportunities available for her children, she was exemplary in so many ways. She will forever be remembered.

May God continue to bless her and keep her, and may his face shine upon her, and be generous unto her. May he lift up his countenance upon her and give her peace, now and forever.

And so, we must take her death as a sign and symbol that we do not know the hour of our final parting. It may be sudden. It may be long. It may be now, it may be later. But whatever and whenever, we must know that those who would sum up our lives must confidently say, that we worked by the sweat of our brow and with the brow of our brain to change the world. That for sure, and in sum, was true of Rachael Jerome Henry Richards as it is true of all truly remarkable men and women.

In one of the well-known songs which we sing at funerals, the songwriter recalls:

Death, like an ever rolling stream, bears all its sons and daughters away
They fly forgotten as a dream dies at the close of day.

Rachael Jerome Henry Richards will continue to live on in our memory. May the God who guided us in our years as an oppressed people, continue to guide her footsteps in the other life.

And when the earth shall claim your wings, then shall you truly dance.

Dance Rachael, my dear Rachael dance on!
May her Soul Rest in Peace.