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.