By Carlena Knight
It was a night of glitz and glamour on Sunday evening as tourism personnel from across the island gathered at the Sandals Grande Antigua for the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Awards Gala dubbed ‘Festival of Colours’.
The awards recognised high-achieving tourism professionals who have contributed to the betterment of Antigua and Barbuda’s tourism product over the last 12 months.
There was also a moment of remembrance for all the tourism workers who passed away this year.
“Our people are at the heart of Antigua and Barbuda’s success as a tourism destination. They are our greatest asset, and a major reason why travellers choose to return to our twin islands time and time again,” said Tourism Minister, Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez.
“As we close off an extremely successful year, with tourism arrivals surpassing predictions, it is imperative that we honour our outstanding tourism ambassadors and energise all of Team Tourism as we prepare for the 2022/2023 winter tourism season ahead.”
Over 60 nominations were made in 12 categories, but that figure was whittled down to a select few, all of whom were present Sunday night.
Award categories were open for nominations from the private and public sector tourism businesses through the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association (ABHTA) and the Ministry of Tourism.
Wendel Richards of Sandals Grande Antigua got the ball rolling as he was named the ABHTA Employee of the Year, edging out two other finalists, Kenniesha Joseph of Galley Bay Resort and Spa, and Alisa Smith of Hermitage Bay Resort.
Mill Reef’s Patrice George was named the ABHTA Supervisor of the Year, while Blue Waters Resort and Spa’s C John Roberts and Aaliyah Greene took the award for Young Hotelier of the Year and Young Chef of the Year, respectively.
Kacy St John of Hermitage Bay Resort was crowned the Rising Star of the Year, while Chef of the year went to Curtain Bluff Resort’s Rodrick Beazer.
Herbert Brown of the United Taxi Company Antigua Ltd was the recipient of Transportation Service Provider of the Year award; Bernadette James of Rendezvous Company Antigua, the Tour Guide of the Year; and Delbert Hutson of Antigua Cruise Port, the Port Frontline Employee of the Year.
Vashti Ramsey Casimir of the Ministry of Tourism and Investment was named the Tourism Employee of the Year, while the Sustainable Tourism award went to Galley Bay Resort and Spa.
Another special award — the Lifetime Achievement award — went to Theodore ‘Ted’ Isaac. His daughter, Lisa and grand-daughter Madison accepted on his behalf.
The gala, which was hosted by the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association (ABHTA) and the Ministry of Tourism was the culmination of a week-long celebration for Tourism Week.