New Strategy for Tourism” announces Tourism Minister, as he calls in Tourism Technicians in two-day round table session

Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Asot Michael, has charged technicians in The Ministry of Tourism and The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, to be custodians of the country’s economic growth.

“We have many projects coming on stream. We have the responsibility to fill those rooms. But, while that is happening, we have a few existing properties that are non-performing. We have to figure out what can be done to make those properties vibrant again.”

The Tourism Minister made the remarks yesterday as he met with over thirty-five technicians from the product development and marketing bodies of the organisations under his leadership, in a two day strategy and planning workshop. Prior to the strategy meeting the individuals responsible for the various overseas offices, held separate meetings with almost every hotel on island, where they met with the respective General Managers to gather critical feedback. This information will be incorporated into the destination’s marketing plans to ensure appropriate buy-in to the final plans.

Senior Tourism officials from Antigua and Barbuda as well as the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority’s Overseas Office converged in the destination for the sessions. Included were CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority – Colin C. James, Rohan Hector – Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Jean Marc Flambert – UK& Europe VP of Sales and Marketing, Marie Walker – North American VP of Sales and Marketing, Cherrie Osborne, UK & Europe Director of Tourism, Charmaine Spencer – Regional Marketing Manager, Pauline Frederick-Hunte, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Shirlene Nibbs – Tourism Consultant and other consultant teams.

The Tourism Minister in his foreword to the team said:

“I expect this meeting to produce plans, strategies and outcomes that will set the tourism industry on an upward trajectory. From this meeting, I want new, creative ideas that will serve to considerably enhance our place in the world market as one of the leading tourism destinations globally.”

“We are facing fierce competition now – not only from our Caribbean neighbours, but also from further afield. How are we to meet that competition and better it”, said the Minister.

The strategy sessions were facilitated by Tourism consultant, Shirlene Nibbs. Nibbs working with the team, presented the strategic overview of the tourism industry having made an initial assessment of the vision, mission and brand promise for the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism organizations. The teams had a unique opportunity to provide critical feedback and give their creative input into the final vision, mission and brand promise that the destination will develop as a key output from the two day sessions.

All Technicians focused on identifying key areas of the product that were critical to the success of the industry and on immediate plans of action to be taken. An evaluation was done on the accommodation, yachting, cruise and transportation sectors as well as on the visitor experience. Several quick wins were identified which ranged from the implementation of a standard rating for all properties on island, to enhanced island wide signage to improve the visitor experience.

Also discussed, were the 2015 marketing plans for the North American market and the UK /Europe and Regional Caribbean markets. The North American market will focus sharply on brand repositioning and recreating the buzz for the destination. Within the UK, plans have been designed to target travellers with the potential to travel during the off peak periods of May/June and September to October, and to grow the business from mainland Europe.

The strategic focus for the regional market will be geared toward attracting more business to Antigua and Barbuda centered around key events on the destination’s calendar such as Cricket, Carnival and Sailing week.

CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin C. James shared with the combined teams the new hotel developments coming on stream in the near future, and the economic opportunities available with the potential of these additional rooms, while Permanent Secretary Ms Paula Frederick-Hunte released details of the budgetary allocations that would be made available for the Tourism departments to fulfil their tasks.

Airlift and Airport developments presentations highlighted new flights for Antigua and Barbuda and increases in airlift within various markets. “The destination is well served. We continue to make sure we grow the airlift, and the new airport allows us to grow this airlift from non-traditional markets,” said James. James also announced that Eden Viaggi, the new Italian Charter for the destination which will be flying weekly with 130 seats to Antigua from December 2015.

The tourism strategy and planning sessions being held have a number of objectives but key among them is to forge more cohesion between all teams; to deliver plans to galvanize, energize and revitalize the industry; to create concrete and measurable results, generate more revenues and earn a larger share of the resources for the benefit of the country.

Day two of the session wraps up today with PR Plan presentations, technicians engaging in further group interactive planning sessions, and a walk-through of the new airport terminal for Antigua.