HONORABLE ASOT MICHAEL MINISTER OF TOURISM, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, INVESTMENT & ENERGY REMARKS FOR KNICKERBOCKER COCKTAIL EVENT NOVEMBER 4TH 2015 KNCKERBOCKER HOTEL, NEW YORK, NY 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
H.E. Ambassador Aubrey Webson, Mr. Dennis Corrigan, VP of Sales & Revenue Management at JetBlue Airways, Other Jet Blue and Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Officials, Antigua and Barbuda Tourism and Travel Partners, Distinguished guests, Members of the Media, Ladies and Gentlemen; good evening,
It is truly an honor to be able to address such a great audience. Thank you for joining us to mark an incredibly important new beginning: a new relationship with our esteemed partners, JetBlue and a new non-stop flight to Antigua and Barbuda.
We truly wanted a venue befitting of how important this new partnership is, and knew this wonderful rooftop in the heart of New York – Times Square – was the perfect venue.
You can feel the energy of this city that mimics the enthusiasm and energy Antigua and Barbuda has for this new service between the East Coast and our twin island nation. New York and the tri-state area is truly our heart, as it is our most important market in North America. Not only do we have the largest diaspora community here, but throughout the years, we've found New York audiences to be the greatest fit to everything we have to offer visitors: paradise via a short 4 hour flight.
If we seem incredibly effusive; it is because we are. New airlift is integral to the success of our tourism industry. If you can't get to Antigua and Barbuda – how are you and other possible visitors going to discover why we're the best destination in the Caribbean?
Just being able to announce there are three new nonstop flights a week from New York to Antigua alone would be reason alone to celebrate. What makes this such a significant announcement is that we are here, partnering with our new friends at JetBlue Airways who are leading the aviation industry. From on-board service to the overall customer experience – JetBlue is truly the most innovative airline in the industry. Forcing legacy carriers to follow their lead.
With JetBlue we know that flying with them is an incentive for passengers and visitors, and we are confident this new service will be a success. In fact the inaugural flight tomorrow morning was sold out 3 weeks in advance! In case you think this might be due to the fact that it is an inaugural flight, many flights during our peak winter season are already nearly sold out. Proof positive that together: JetBlue and Antigua and Barbuda is a winning combination!
As the Minister for Tourism, Economic Development Investment and Energy, I am giving my word to everyone here this evening that Antigua and Barbuda will not only meet but also exceed our responsibilities for ensuring the success of this new connection. While JetBlue will be providing seamless, smooth and enjoyable service to Antigua and Barbuda – everyone on the twin island nation will be ensuring visitors receive the best experience possible from the point they touch down to departure.
Arriving passengers will experience our new VC Bird International Terminal – the newest and most modern airport in the Caribbean. This service will continue across the portfolio of properties from leading brands in the industry such as Sandals – who are here this evening – to boutique hotels some of which offer a chic green eco-friendly experience.
Dining options range from the popular Nelson's Dockyard Seafood Friday's recently featured in USA Today in the top 5 Caribbean “Fish Frys” to fine dining at master restaurants.
All this of course is, in addition to our pristine beaches – we have 365 of them. One for each day of the year – and beautiful waters that are perfect for any water sport from yachting to deep sea fishing to scuba diving and snorkeling.
The idiom there is something for everyone is truly befitting of what we have to offer in Antigua and Barbuda. What I believe truly separates us is the genuine warmth, hospitality and friendliness of our people. It is why we have some of the highest rates of repeat visitors in the region.
So tonight we celebrate being able to share this warmth and hospitality with even more people through this new JetBlue service from New York! We're confident that working together this partnership will be a success.
I hope that everyone enjoys the evening, the unrivaled view of the heart of New York, and ask that you share the story of Antigua and Barbuda and JetBlue's new flight with all of your colleagues, friends and respective audiences.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.