Welcome! Our, 100,000th US Visitor Ms. Jean Larsen and partner Mr. Denis Murphy. Today is a great day in the annals of our tourism history, as we mark a significant milestone and celebrate the end of a momentous year for our country’s tourism. I mean this from the bottom of my heart, and of behalf of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, I first thank you all for the part that you played in achieving this target.
Why am I so happy? Predictions across our region and some local naysayers may have suggested a decrease in visitors and in spending. By the grace of God, and with the support and leadership displayed by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda we are defying the odds and showing significant growth and increased spend.
Why you might ask? And I will tell you. This administration knows exactly how important the tourism industry is to the future and success of Antigua and Barbuda.
We have aggressively – and successfully – attracted new properties and new investments. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of announcing that the COCONUT BEACH RESORT an Autograph Collection HOTEL by MARRIOTT– one of the largest and most renowned conglomerates in the world – is breaking ground in Antigua.
We have invested in the cruise industry – dredging and extending Heritage Quay Pier so that we can accommodate larger vessels. We recently commemorated the arrival of the “Anthem of the Seas” the largest cruise ship to ever visit our shores with over four thousand visitors this month.
We now have put the infrastructure and programs in place so that as many visitors as possible can experience our wonderful nation first hand. Our visitors now have the access, and the opportunity to discover why we were named by the prestigious Caribbean Journal in its 2016 Travel awards as the region’s best Caribbean Destination. Your humble servant was also named as the Region’s best Tourism Minister for our forward thinking efforts this year in growing our country’s tourism industry.
Today we celebrate welcoming the 100,000th passenger from the US market – our key and largest overseas source market. I want to personally welcome Ms. Jean Larsen and her companion Denis Murphy to our beautiful islands and to say just how delighted we are to have you with us. Jean Larsen and Denis Murphy
You might wonder why this is so significant and why we’re here today.
Tourism is the lifeblood of the economy – over 60% – and therefore the future of the economy. The main, and best, sources of employment for Antiguans and Barbudans is through tourism. When tourism thrives, so does the country and so does the economy.
The Government and Ministry recognizes this importance. We tasked the US office with increasing the number of visitors to over 100,000. I will be honest. I knew it was a challenge. We have never achieved this number before and it meant growing our arrivals from this market at close to 20% year over year.
This was no mean feat, but I am delighted to report that we have delivered!. The team was diligent and efficient in creating dynamic marketing and sales programs so as to increase the awareness of Antigua and Barbuda and our offering to visitors.
I am convinced that we did a good job or we wouldn’t be here today welcoming the 100,00th visitor from the United States
I am pleased to announce that Jean and Denis are repeat visitors to Antigua and Barbuda. This is proof that once we offer excellence we can be assured that our guests will keep returning again and again.
Today – is an amazing day, as this milestone would have seemed impossible just a few short years ago. So I would like to thank the Prime Minster and my Cabinet colleagues for ensuring that we had the resources to do the job and also to recognize the tireless efforts, creativity and perseverance of the US team. Without them we would not be celebrating today.
Ladies and Gentlemen Antigua and Barbuda is now the leader of the region. Awarded most Romantic Caribbean Destination by the World Travel Awards, two years in a row. Our lovely couple who are being celebrated today can attest that this is a place to fall in love and a place where you keep the romance flames burning brightly!
Our destination again demonstrated our superior product and service by dominating the Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards for our properties.
Ladies and gentlemen our achievement this year has been No mean feat. However I predict 2017 will be an even better year, defying all the odds as we aim for the skies in giving our guests the best possible vacation experience
Why not? We have the best beaches, better activities, great food, glorious weather and the most hospitable and friendlies people anywhere on this planet. Antigua and Barbuda promised the best that the Caribbean has to offer.
The arrival of the 100, 000th passenger today shows we are doing what we have been tasked with. Attracting new visitors and making them fall in love with our twin isle nation.
This would not be possible without this wonderful couple choosing to visit, explore and share their experiences. So I would like to thank Jean and Denis for the confidence they have shown in us by selecting us as their choice to welcome the New Year.
We have lots of goodies for you to help celebrate this occasion and hope you have a once in a lifetime visit and we cannot thank you enough for choosing Antigua and Barbuda. We promise that you will have an experience you’ll never forget and that will make you return again and again.
I wish you a wonderful stay and safe returns!