The Honourable Asot Michael,Minister of Tourism, Economic Development & Energy visited Toronto for his first meeting in his capacity as Minister to meet with the travel trade media. He was accompanied to Canada by Mr. Rohan Hector, Special Advisor to the Minister and Chairman of the St. Johns Development Corporation and Mr. Colin James, CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority. Ms. Ann-Marie Layne, Antigua and Barbuda's Consul General in Toronto joined the delegation for the meeting.
The Minister opened the session by expressing his gratitude on behalf of the government and people of Antigua and Barbuda for the decades of a mutually rewardingrelationship with the people of Canada. He shared with the journaliststhat tourism is Antigua and Barbuda's main engine of economic growth and the importance of Canada as a source market for visitors. Canada has recorded a robust 20% increase in arrivalsto Antigua and Barbuda for each of the past three years.
In anticipation of more people desirous of coming to Antigua, Minister Michael said the new airport terminal, equipped with jet bridges, multiple VIP lounges, and high-end duty free shops,will be the largest and most modern in the Eastern Caribbean. This is scheduled to open in March 2015. The Minister also shared the government's plans to increase the number of hotel rooms, already signing an agreement withYida International Investment Antigua for a US$2 Billion resort development. This development will include the construction of five-star hotels, a golf course, 1,300 residential units, shopping facilities, a modern conference center and a casino. In addition, the 400 room Beaches Resortoperating under the Sandalsumbrellawill break ground early in the new-year.
Minister Michael divulged that plans for Antigua's future tourism expansion and a more modern infrastructure will includea new economic development zone at the iconic Nelson's Dockyard. Inspired by the successful yacht and boat basin development around the island of Sardinia, the newly legislated zone will consist of high-end low-density winter housing.
St. Johns Harbour is also slated for transformation. The media were told that preparations are being made to make the seafront more picturesque and economically vibrant by the construction of a boardwalk with shops and restaurants and anchored by a resort hotel.
In a lively question and answer session that followed the Minister's address he said several new hotels will be built and several existing properties will be refurbished and placed back into full commercial operations. These include The Royal Antiguan, The Hodges Bay Club that will be restored and The Half Moon Bay that have attracted interest from potential investors.
In closing the Minister Michael reiterated the government's determination to continuously improve and upgrade the tourism infrastructure and facilities. He extended an invitation to the media to visit Antigua and Barbuda to personally see the improvements so that they could confidently report to the Canadian travel industry.
Submitted to the Honourable Michael Coteau, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sports of Canada by the Honourable Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development and Renewable Energy of Antigua and Barbuda.
Introduction Canada has enjoyed noteworthy success in Commonwealth and Olympic Games. Its athletes have brought pride to the Canadian people and given recognition to Canada in the international community. They have also been role models to young people in an increasingly culturally-diverse Canadian society, uniting them under a single Canadian flag. The better that Canadians perform in Commonwealth and international sports events, the more they contribute to the sense of oneness and pride in Canada, and in encouraging young people to use their energies in productive ways. In the 7-member states of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), there is an abundance of naturally talented athletes for track and field events, but they lack proper facilities for training. They are also not exposed to competition with more experienced athletes from other countries. OECS countries have produced a small number of Gold Medal winners in limited fields.
Antigua as a training location for a training facility The Government of Antigua and Barbuda proposes that the Government of Canada (in a joined-up approach by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Sports) could consider establishing a training facility on Antigua for track and field events that would be utilised by Canadian athletes, particularly in the winter months, and also by athletes from all 7 OECS countries. Such a facility, built by Canada, would be a tangible contribution to sports development in the Eastern Caribbean; one that would be easily recognisable by all the people and appreciated by the youth. It would be an enduring symbol to the friendship of Canada and the members of the OECS. OECS athletes would at last have a facility that would enable them to train properly for Commonwealth and Olympic events. The facility would be available to Canadians for training in the winter months. It could be a very cost-effective way for Canada to provide such facilities for its athletes. In addition to their training, Canadian athletes would also be able to engage in competitions with athletes from the OECS region, adding a cutting edge dimension to their training. Indeed, it may even be possible to organise an annual Hemispheric Commonwealth Games in which Canada and all Commonwealth Caribbean countries including the Bahamas, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago could participate. The venue for such an annual Hemispheric Commonwealth Games could alternate between the facility in Antigua in the Winter one year, and Canada in the Summer the following year. It would have an additional benefit of bringing Canadian tourists as spectators to Antigua in the Winter, and Caribbean-wide tourists as spectators to Canada in the Summer.
Details to be worked-out An undertaking of this kind would require many details to be worked out; among them: Cost of establishing the facility Cost of annual maintenance Source of annual maintenance costs Management of the facility If the idea is accepted in principle, these details could be worked out by experts from Canada in consultation with local persons in Antigua.
Conclusion This concept paper is very preliminary and designed to solicit any interest that Canada might have in the project which should be seen not only as a contribution to training and honing the skills of its athletes, but also as tangible expression of Canada's friendship with, and support for, the smaller countries of the Caribbean who have been Canada's long term ally in the international community.
OECS countries are: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts-Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Montserrat