Removal of Asot Michael Sparks Concerns about Further Decline of Tourism Sector in Antigua and Barbuda

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St. John’s, Antigua – The UPP has expressed grave concern about the manner in which Tourism Minister Asot Michael, had been dismissed from all Ministerial portfolios, amidst allegations of his detention by Metropolitan Police in London last Monday. The Party believes that the Prime Minister’s approach in addressing the issue could have negative implications for Antigua and Barbuda’s tourism sector and investment prospects.
As the destination prepares for the upcoming tourist season, on the heels of two destructive hurricanes, Former Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority (ABIA) and UPP Candidate for St. John’s Rural North, Dr. McChesney Emanuel, fears that the absence of a Minister of Tourism and Investment at the helm, at this critical juncture, could spark a lack of confidence among tourism stakeholders and also throughout the investment community.
In a marketplace where Antigua and Barbuda is already underperforming, with significant decline in arrivals from all major source markets, Dr. Emanuel feels that the removal of Michael should have been better orchestrated and handled in a professional manner.
According to Dr. Emanuel, “The announcement of Michael’s removal should have included the announcement of a replacement Minister and contingency plans to bring stronger leadership and a new vision to revamp Antigua and Barbuda’s main industry. It should have also included a strategic plan for immediate implementation to boost tourism marketing and recovery of the sector.”
Emanuel pointed out that the country’s tourism stayover arrivals have been spiraling downwards, with 10% to 20% declines for several months of 2017 and a significant decline of 27% for the month of September. While he partially attributes the most recent decrease to the recent hurricanes, he also criticizes tourism officials for not yet revealing a strategic plan and budget to support the recovery and redevelopment of the tourism sector.
“It is extremely critical that the government seeks to mitigate against further decline in the tourism sector. They must immediately mobilize stakeholders to identify the major issues affecting this sharp decline in tourism arrivals and find the best solutions to get tourism back on track. We have seen significant growth in
Caribbean islands such as Bermuda, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Grenada. Antigua and Barbuda needs to identify a new approach to reenergize the tourism sector in order to be more competitive in the marketplace,” said Dr. Emanuel.
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