Tourism and Culture officials continue to promote A&B in Dubai

Cultural ambassadors and icons are flying the flag for the twin island nation in the United Arab Emirates (Facebook photo)
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By Carlena Knight

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Antigua and Barbuda is currently making its mark at the Expo 2020 Dubai event where a team of officials from the ministries of Tourism and Culture is continuing to showcase the twin island nation.

The six-month expo, which occurs every five years, places countries and their cultures from around the world on display.

This year, Antigua and Barbuda’s display is organised under the theme of Connecting Minds, Creating the Future in the ‘Mobility’ section of the expo, and exhibits the exceptional strides the Caribbean country has made in its socio-economic growth over the years.

Special Projects and Events Coordinator for the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA) Shermain Jeremy revealed that the expo has served as an avenue for discussions with potential investors.

To this end, Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez and other officials are on the ground holding talks.

“Much of the conversation being had on that level is about investment and what those investment opportunities could mean for Antigua and Barbuda; there really and truly is a lot to explore here in Dubai,” Jeremy said.

“Ambassador Diann Black-Layne was here earlier in the month for sustainable meetings that they had here, so we are looking for more opportunities like that. Ambassador Dwight Gardiner is also here and one of the big conversations has been about our trade, how can we benefit from it, and our Ambassador to China is here, too — Ambassador Stuart Young — and he is talking about the financial sector with persons.”

As the nation celebrated its 40th anniversary of Independence on Monday, the team in Dubai – a city in the United Arab Emirates – displayed Antigua and Barbuda’s national dress, steel pan music, various local cuisines and other signature paraphernalia for the world to see.

“One of the things we tried to do was to find things that would connect the people of Antigua and Barbuda to the people of Dubai, and we do share some similar pastimes; cricket is one, as well as kite surfing,” Jeremy added.

“We also have a retail space and in that retail space we are selling to the Dubai public and its visitors, all things local. So, from our Susie’s Hot Sauce to our local jams, locally-made coffee and even masks of the Antigua and Barbuda flag which have been selling quite well.

“We have accessories on sale from our local craftsmen and women, so everything that you can think of that is linked to Antigua and Barbuda you will see in our pavilion.

“Our top seller is our Susie’s Hot Sauce and Grannie Annie Hot Sauce as well as our local jams,” she added.

According to Jeremy, the expectation is high that the gap between the country and the global market will be bridged through the success of the expo.

She added that since she has been in Dubai, her eyes have been opened to the endless possibilities that are open to residents once the right connections are in place, and with this in mind, Jeremy is encouraging residents to “think outside the box”.

“Do you have a great idea that you think may never work? Maybe now is the time to explore that and see what the opportunities are and definitely keep our minds open.

“I know sometimes in Antigua we tend to get stuck in our 108 square miles, but there’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored and I know that we have the talent. I know that we have the capability, we may not always have the resources but it is important to start somewhere.

“So, I just want the people of Antigua and Barbuda, especially on our 40th year of Independence, to try and think about ways that we can be innovative and more creative and how we get ourselves and Antigua and Barbuda on the map,” she implored.

Meanwhile, according to Minister of Tourism Charles Fernandez, it’s not only the country’s rich culture that the Antigua and Barbuda delegation is attempting to sell to prospective investors, as emphasis is also being placed on the country’s socio-economic conditions, which remain attractive despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“I think people also need to know the fact that politically, Antigua and Barbuda has a very stable government; we have the lowest crime rate in the region [and] the economy is growing the fastest in the region.

“Of course, with the pandemic we lost close to 20 percent [growth] in 2020 and this year, we may be down maybe between two and four percent. Next year, [however], is looking really good for us in terms of the tourist spend and we’re looking for the economy to grow between eight and 10 percent.

“That shows the opportunity for investment in Antigua and Barbuda,” Fernandez explained.

Along with return of the traditional tourism high season, several development projects in the cruise tourism sector are scheduled to get underway next year and should make Antigua and Barbuda an even more desired destination for both travel and investment.

The Dubai 2020 expo began on October 1 and will end on March 31 2022. Jeremy added that Antigua and Barbuda’s attendance is financed by officials in Dubai.

(Additional reporting by Orville Williams)

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