By Shermain Bique-Charles
A tourism recovery task force is now in place and its members are assigned to specifically address how best to bring visitors back safely and ensure everyone’s interests are factored into the plans.
Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez, who established the group, tells Observer that several meetings have been held in recent days and preparations are at an all-time high for the resumption of tourism activity in Antigua and Barbuda.
“We are discussing development of protocols required to ensure the safety of the Antigua and Barbuda population and future visitors,” Fernandez said.
The impact of Covid-19, according to the minister, has been felt directly by most if not all tourism partners.
“Going forward it will change the way that we have traditionally done business,” he acknowledged.
“Health and safety will come under close scrutiny as we put in place additional measures to protect those who reside in Antigua and Barbuda, our tourism workforce and those who visit our shores, while balancing this with ensuring that we continue to provide the same personable service, and warm hospitality that we are known for,” he explained.
The taskforce includes representatives from the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Health, the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, the Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority, the Antigua Port Authority, the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association, the Antigua Airlines Association, Global Ports Holding – Antigua Cruise Port, and the Antigua Workers’ Union.
This comes as tourism officials prepare to meet virtually on Monday to discuss the reopening of the destination.
The meeting via Zoom is open to all tourism industry partners to allow for private-public sector dialogue.
“Antigua and Barbuda’s successful reopening for tourism will require industry buy-in and collaboration,” Fernandez said.
“Our aim with the meeting is to provide our stakeholders with information that they need, to have them share their ideas, and to allow us all to go through the various phases of reopening together,” he added.
Tourism Authority CEO, Colin James, and travel industry experts from the USA, UK and Canada will form part of Monday’s meeting. Agenda topics for discussion include consumers’ expectations, best practices and health protocols.