St Johns, Antigua, Feb 22, 2019 – The Tourism Licensing and Classification Act passed in Parliament this week will help Antigua and Barbuda meet the service requirements of tourists from around the world
That’s according to former Tourism Minister Asot Michael:
“As I have said in this parliament, with all the advanced plans for state-of-the-art cruise arrival facilities; expansion and modernization of the hotel plant; and more effective, technology-driven, direct marketing and promotion; we are on track for more record-breaking performances in the sector.
“But we need to pay closer attention to the integrity of the product and the standards of service excellence that will meet and exceed the expectations of the global tourism market”.
According to the MP for St Peters, “We trail 12 Caribbean destinations in cruise passenger spending which means the improvement in product and service standards will open up significant additional income earning opportunities”.
In his contribution to the debate in Parliament on February 21, 2019, Mr. Michael commended the Attorney General for “putting bill before us for its second and third readings in the very first meeting of parliament after the budget debate”.
In the budget debate on February 1st, 2019, Michael lamented the fact that this bill was on the order paper for 4 sittings over a period of one year only to be removed on every occasion. He therefore asked the Minister to insist, “in the public interest of safeguarding tourism as the backbone of our economy, that this bill is taken through all three readings and passed at the next sitting of this Parliament”.
Three weeks later Mr. Michael’s prayers to have the matter expedited were answered:
“I am pleased that our efforts have now led to the passage of the Tourism Licensing and Classifications Act which will bring a sense of order and normalcy and much needed regulation in how small business operators retail their goods and offer services to our visitors”.
As Minister of Tourism, MP Asot Michael had moved quickly to correct the lack of standards “as a critical part of my agenda in addressing a problem that if left unchecked had the potential to literally destroy all that we had built over the years”.
The key objective of this Bill is to professionalize the Antigua and Barbuda tourism industry and to transform the Antigua and Barbuda tourism product to a level that can compete with any destination worldwide.
The second objective is to have a standardized listing allowing intermediaries, to have a reference that they can use when preparing their marketing and promotional catalogues, when negotiating wholesale deals or when putting together a customized product.
“Furthermore, on the national level a system of licensing and tourism classifications highlights the Governments desire to bring the quality of the national tourism product to a higher level.
“After much research and brainstorming, we have a comprehensive piece of legislation that encapsulates the best practices from not just within the region, but from further afield where we looked at countries such as South Africa and Singapore who have strong legislation governing licensing and standards of tourism service providers”.