Barbuda: Minister for Tourism Hon. Asot Michael speech at opening of the Barbuda Belle Luxury Beach Hotel. Today marks a very important step in Barbuda’s development.
This opening of the Barbuda Belle Luxury Beach Hotel is historic as it is the first time in over ten years that a new hotel has opened on the sister isle. This represents a vote of confidence in not just the Barbuda council and your parliamentary representative the Hon. Arthur Nibbs, but an expression of confidence in my Government’s management of the economy, this new project is indeed a welcome addition to our tourism product.
Who would have thought that the initial stopover visit of a distinguished surgeon toBarbuda in 1991 while going to a fishing tournament in Antigua, would have resulted in what we are celebrating today.
Who could have imagined that a casual discussion in June 2013 with Mr. Elvis Burton would have led to the unanimous endorsment by the Barbuda Council for a US$2 million Investment, which provided up to 25 jobs during the construction phase and will now provide 10-12 much needed new jobs right now and up to 25 during the upcoming winter season. It only goes to show that opportunities for investment and country development are readily available to those who seize the initiative and act decisively upon them.
As the first green field project to open post the 2014 elections, Barbuda Belle Luxury Beach Hotel with its 7 units at Cedar Point will always be remembered by the people of Barbuda, as being the beginning of what will be the future under an Antigua and Barbuda Labour Government; it is the beginning of realization of the vision to become the fastest growing economy within the Americas.
I believe I can speak for everyone here today by saying that as we arrived at Cedar Point we were blown away and captivated by the beauty of the area. The tranquility and spectacular scenery is a great change of pace from Antigua and strikes the perfect balance. We are truly two very unique islands but one great destination!
Cedar Point stands out as a very special place in Antigua and Barbuda. With its breathtaking beach adjacent to pristine mangroves, you could not have selected a more enchanting location for this type of eco friendly development, which has all the ingredients for a relaxing vacation.
In fact Barbuda Belle Luxury Beach Hotel as seen today has answered those who were critical of this project as there has been absolutely no negative impact on the habitat of our national bird. The largest colony of magnificent Frigate Birds in the western hemisphere peacefully coexists a few minutes away from this remarkable luxury hotel. This oasis of the Caribbean, which is Barbuda Belle, is destined to become the latest jewel in the eco-tourism crown of our beautiful country.
To the investors and owners of Barbuda Belle Dr. Francois and Mrs. Barbara Petit, I extend our congratulations to you in moving forward with this project, in spite of the many obstacles that you faced. Based on our experience, we are fully aware that investors have an almost unlimited opportunity for success when it comes to the placement of their investments. You would not have persevered if you did not believe that your confidence in the Government of Antigua and Barbuda was well placed. True to your calling as a surgeon you have successfully completed the operation and the patient is alive and well!
I understand that plans have already been formulated to expand the hotel by an additional 15 units, with 5 units added each year for the next three years. We are delighted at your vote of confidence in making this decision to continue and more importantly to expand.
When we look at the ascetics of this development, and the efforts that you have made to be environmentally friendly with sustainability as a key focus, you are to be commended and applauded for your efforts.
I understand your choice of material for the construction was made during a trip to Bali, Indonesia, to ensure that you were as eco friendly as possible. However we are particularly delighted that you did so while still maintaining the integrity of the Caribbean style colonial architecture.
The design of Barbuda Belle to be “Green” from the way the resort generates renewable solar energy to your water conservation and management is a shining example of true tourism sustainability. I predict that this resort will be a benchmark for others to follow. The efforts made in this area are in direct alignment with my Ministry’s vision for “The Green Barbuda Renewable Energy Project”, which aims to have 70% to 75% of Barbuda’s electric energy generated by Green solar Power.
Barbuda Belle is therefore playing its part to greatly reduce the current fossil fuel based energy consumption on the island of Barbuda.
As new projects like Barbuda Belle get underway, the commitment that the Government gives is that we will be doing everything in our power to ensure that that the transportation links are in place to move international visitors quickly and efficiently between our two islands.
The Government is fully aware that the success of hotels on the sister island will be directly dependent on the availability of reliable air service between both our islands.
This airlift will ensure the success of not just this project but the host of other first class eco friendly development projects destined for Barbuda.
This new hotel means new opportunities available to all Barbudans for increased jobs, and much more business activities and closer collaboration. The end result will be greater economic growth, but more importantly even closer partnership between the Barbuda Council and the Central Government.
The clear message that I bring today is that our country is one nation! Barbuda’s success is Antigua’s success and Antigua’s success ultimately means that Barbuda too succeeds and grows.
Since assuming office the new ABLP administration has made a tangible commitment at the Ministry of Tourism and the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority to ensure this oneness of purpose, with the integration of the Barbuda tourism team in all our plans and tourism activities.
In the area of cruise tourism, we have embarked upon a strategy to promote Barbuda to the high-end luxury cruise lines. These lines operate smaller ships and are particularly attracted to island like Barbuda.
In fact the lack of a commercial cruise pier is not a disadvantage, as the concept of tendering their passengers ashore for a beach day on a “Robinson Crusoe” type island with some of the most spectacular beaches in the world is a compelling proposition for their wealthy passenger.
Our efforts in this area have now reaped dividends and for the first time we have a record of 12 cruise ships calls that visited Barbuda for this year!
The ABLP Government has been working and delivering!
This is a niche market for Barbuda within the cruise sector where we will see much success as we go forward together.
Ladies and Gentlemen we are fully committed to moving forward as one team, and absolutely focused on ushering in a new phase of unparalleled growth in tourism for our beloved country. What we are celebrating today in the grand opening of the Barbuda Bell Luxury Beach is a promise made by the new Gaston Browne administration to the people of Barbuda and a promise kept!
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Honorable Prime Minister.