According to a former minister of tourism, Antigua & Barbuda needs to invest in ecotourism in order to boost development.
Sir Lester Bird said that the country cannot survive anymore on just sun, sea and sand, but the establishment of such a venture (ecotourism) would require creative power.
“I am taking it to the Cabinet and we have to do some imagineering,” he said. “You are not going to be able to get away with just sun, sand and sea… every island has that. You have to be able to present something idiosyncratic that is special to Antigua and Barbuda.”
Ecotourism is a branch of the industry that focuses on exotic environments, with a view to provide living spaces that have little environmental impact but provide the space to observe flora and fauna.
He recounted when business mogul Walt Disney sought to establish Disney World, he employed ‘imagineers’ to help bring the idea to life and believes the country needs a similar approach.
Meantime, Sir Lester said while he does not believe Antigua & Barbuda will become “a major industrial country” since the nation’s salary/wage scale is high, he, however, hopes there will be improvements in the tourism sector.
He added that the country needs to get about 10,000 hotel rooms, improve existing hotels and increase the number of major airlines flying to the twin island state.
The National Hero warned, however, “The reality is, unless you get the rooms and attract people of high rate, Antigua cannot be a mass tourism centre. Antigua has to be upmarket and I believe that we have the capacity.”