Caribbean Week is a resounding success for Antigua and Barbuda
Caribbean Week is the largest tourism activity in the greater New York region and US for the Caribbean tourism industry. In its 42nd year, this annual event draws thousands of participants each year, resulting in extensive media coverage of the various events in local, national and international press and reaching millions. Organized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization, Caribbean week combines business sessions and consumer-oriented events with food, fashion, entertainment, sales and networking opportunities to create awareness of the Caribbean’s diverse product and desirability through business development opportunities, consumer engagement and authentic cultural experiences. This is incredibly important as the Tourism and Travel Industry is a significant portion of each region’s GDP, and providing employment on-island and the opportunity to make contact with investors in this market is key to realizing the Honorable Prime Minister’s vision of Antigua and Barbuda becoming the economic powerhouse of the Eastern Caribbean.
The week began with a splash on Monday with the success of hosting the must attend event of the evening with influential, affluentials, top-tier media, travel trade and executives at the famous 21 Club in Manhattan featuring attendance by the Honorable Prime Minister, Gastone Brown, the Honorable Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment&Energy, Asot Michael, Special Economic Envoy, Robert De Niro and Ambassadors Aubrey Webson and Gilbert Boustany. The event was over-prescribed, with over 200 attendees arriving despite the inclement weather in New York to hear the Prime Minister and Minister share the achievements of the administration of the past year including: raising over $2billion in capital, strides in making the Citizenship by Investment a success, and the many steps in revolutionizing the island from the opening of the new terminal at VC Bird Airport to the multitude of new developments that have been opened and are currently in construction. The event also featured the official signing and partnership between The Government of Antigua and Barbuda and the Sunwing Travel Group to develop a 500-room all-inclusive resort under the Royalton Luxury Resorts brand on the famed white sands of Deep Bay, Antigua. Construction will commence this summer on The Royalton Antigua Resort&Spa, as well as a residential complex with over 200 condominium units. Slated to open in 2017, this $400M development is expected to represent 2,000 new jobs for Antigua and a massive injection to the economy.
Tuesday featured a luncheon at the exclusive Knickerbocker Club co-hosted Vice Chairman of the Forbes Publishing Company, Christopher Forbes. The event was attended by over 75 of the top investors, banking firms, real estate firms and moguls who represent the top echelon for the many investment opportunities on island. The luncheon featured speeches by the Honorable Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment&Energy impressing upon them the step-change progress that the Government has thus far achieved, including the total transformation of port facilities and downtown St. John’s, the imminent opening ‘of the most modern airport in the Caribbean,’ strategic planning and work being done toward renewable energy with a focus on solar power, and particular focus on investments such as Free Economic Zone, Offshore Banking, Registration of Ships and Yachts, Private Air Line Registry, Internet Gaming and in particular the Citizenship by Investment Program.
Wednesday featured a live televised segment on the local news program, WPIX 11 News, for their popular 6pm broadcast where Minster Michael was interviewed about the importance of Caribbean Week and why Antigua and Barbuda was the best destination in the Caribbean. The segment also featured Chef Christopher Terry culinary delights that he prepared for the hosts and featured Chef Myers Fruit carving mastery skills. The five minute segment was aired throughout the Tri-State area, providing exposure to millions people. After the segment, the chefs hosted a live-cooking demonstration at the high-end lifestyle chain, Williams-Sonoma in Columbus Circle where the demographic of attendees were a perfect fit to entice them to visit the islands. The evening featured the ‘Romance Pavilion,’ which is a unique opportunity for regions to reach out to engaged couples seeking information on a honeymoon or destination wedding and connect with them on an individual basis. With over 300 couples at the event, Antigua and Barbuda had an impressive display to entice their interest and interaction. With the highest number of weddings per capita in the world, the wedding market is incredibly important to the Antigua and Barbuda tourism offer, and this evening was an excellent opportunity to explain why the islands where the best choice for them.
Thursday was the ‘media day’ of the week where Antigua and Barbuda began by being honored and recognized at the Caribbean Media Awards Luncheon, followed by the Media Market and finished by the TripAdvisor Awards. The Caribbean Media Awards Luncheon recognizes media for positive coverage of the Caribbean and recognizes media for influencing their readers to travel to the Caribbean. Held at the Wyndham New Yorker hotel, there are 9 categories as well as a ‘Best in Show,’ winner. Antigua and Barbuda were presented with the ‘Virtual Visitor’ award that was presented to Luisita Lopez Torregrosa from The New York Times for her feature piece, “Seeing the Whole of Antigua.” This is an incredible achievement considering there were over 120 entries for the 9 categories of awards, and the first time Antigua and Barbuda have won this award. Antigua and Barbuda were additionally recognized at the TripAdvisor Awards, where Antigua was chosen as a ‘Top 10 Traveler’s Choice’ destination. This recognition is particularly impactful as it is awarded by users of this travel site; the world’s largest with more than 60 million members and 170 million reviews and opinions of hotels, restaurants, attractions and other travel-related businesses. This award is a true recognition of how beloved the island is, and is proof of all of the dedicated-hard work being done by the tourism industry on-island. On-hand to accept both awards on behalf of Antigua and Barbuda were ABTA CEO, Colin C. James and Government Consultant Shirlene Nibbs.
In addition to the awards ceremonies, the CTO held the ‘Media Market,’ a two and a half hour open forum for media to attend so as to network with the different participating regions, and find out the latest news from them directly. Antigua and Barbuda had the largest presence at the market, hosting the only double-booth, designed to attract passerby’s with colorful, enticing images, banners and branded giveaways including popular cloth beach-bags that everyone, even other regions left happily with. Every person left the media market talking about Antigua and Barbuda, armed with further information of why the twin islands are the heart of the Caribbean. Present during the course of the market were Honorable Minster of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy Asot Michael who provided interviews to media along with ABTA CEO, Colin C. James and ABTA Vice President of Sales and Marketing, North America Marie Walker who additionally led booth activity.
Friday evening was the celebratory end to the ‘official’ week with the ‘Rum&Rhythm Benefit,’ where Antigua and Barbuda were one of the 5 islands present for an audience of over 700 attendees that included important Tourism officials and vendors, top Caribbean personalities and celebrities as well as significant representation of the Caribbean Diaspora community who are an integral part of investment opportunities. The evening featured samplings of a variety of top-shelf award-winning, eclectic authentic cuisine, pulsating music and a silent auction where proceeds go to the CTO Scholarship Foundation, a charitable organization that provides scholarships to Caribbean nationals to pursue studies in tourism, hospitality and languages. The Antigua and Barbuda booth that was well-positioned in the room next to the dance floor and main-bar, provided culinary delights of amuse-bouches from Chef Myers and his team that had many waiting in long lines to sample!
The Honorable Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy Asot Michael summarized the achievements of the Antigua and Barbuda team, “Antigua and Barbuda began the week as the most-buzzed about destination of Caribbean Week, and ended the week in the same manner. I am incredibly proud of the achievements the entire team accomplished in the short time of a week! From hosting over-prescribed events to winning awards to securing news segments – something no other region accomplished during the week! I am confident that everything accomplished this week has only further cemented the positive momentum of Antigua and Barbuda in realizing the Prime Minister’s vision of becoming not only the economic powerhouse of the Eastern Caribbean but the beloved destination of choice not only in the Caribbean but the world. I know we will all look forward warmly welcoming many future visitors on-island after our strategic outreach during the week.”
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ABOUT ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
Antigua (pronounced An-tee'ga) and Barbuda (Bar-byew’da) is located in the heart of the Caribbean Sea. The largest of the Leeward Islands, Antigua&Barbuda comprises 108-square miles. The 365 white and pink sand beaches, one for every day of the year, are just the beginning of the treasures that await visitors. Antigua’s rich history and spectacular topography provide a variety of popular sightseeing opportunities. Nelson’s Dockyard, the only remaining example of a Georgian fort commissioned by the British in 1755, is perhaps the most renowned landmark. Betty’s Hope, built in 1674, is the site of one of the first full-scale sugar plantations on Antigua, and offers a chance to step back into time by visiting the restored mills. Another unique attraction is Devil’s Bridge, located at the eastern tip of the island in Indian Town National Park, where Atlantic breakers have carved out a natural limestone arch. Antigua boasts a varied tourism calendar including events such as the World Class Antigua Sailing Week, Classic Yacht Regatta, Antigua Sports Fishing and also the annual Carnival; known as the Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival. Island accommodation ranges from luxury resorts and all-inclusive hotels to smaller more intimate boutique guesthouses and cottages.
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