Former Tourism Minister and now Leader of the United Progressive Party Harold Lovell says the concentration on this year’s World Tourism Day-in Antigua and Barbuda- should be on getting people back to full employment.
Lovell said in an address on Tuesday that decision makers and those at the head of the vital industry should also ensure that tourism businesses of all sizes and across all sectors, can recover and realize their full potential.
Thousands of residents were placed on the breadline during the Covid-19 pandemic and not all of them have regained employment.
This year’s theme World Tourism Day is held under the theme “Rethinking Tourism” and Lovell is calling on “citizens and residents, hospitality workers, large organizations, micro, small and medium enterprises, and government officials — who serve the tourism industry, to rethink how the industry can better serve us”.
He said as one of the Caribbean’s premier destinations, we must reimagine how to better manage, market, and measure our tourism industry, which according to him will require a visionary Tourism Masterplan that prioritizes infrastructural upgrades, public education, financing for tourism businesses, linkages to other sectors of the economy and social protection for tourism workers.
“It is also time to increase digitalization throughout the tourism workforce to upskill the sector and increase our competitive edge as a destination,” Lovell said.
COVID-19 has caused a major disruption in the tourism industry worldwide, revealing many possibilities for tourism development, diversification of our national economy, and the creation of jobs and new visitor experiences, he noted.
“Antigua and Barbuda must develop a solid plan for resiliency that will allow us to act and not merely react,” Lovell added.
He said as part of our long-term tourism plan, the UPP will create a financial climate that will attract reputable foreign, local, and Diaspora investments, accelerate the completion and refurbishment of tourism projects and infrastructural upgrades and activate policies that will generate growth in the tourism sector, by strengthening niches such as health and wellness and community tourism to attract a new client mix.
A UPP government he said will also oversee the implementation of a sustainable national tourism strategy, that will leverage our unique selling points like our culture to meet our economic and social needs.
“By rethinking Tourism, we will fuel the industry with innovative strategies to better manage our resources and strengthen our brand in all sectors — accommodations, aviation, cruise, yachting, attractions, food and beverage, transportation and entertainment,” he said.
Adding, “Antiguans and Barbudans, let us all come together to pool our ideas, resources, and talents to make our tourism product the best brand in Caribbean tourism. When residents value the benefits that our tourism industry provides to their families and communities, it makes it easier for guests to appreciate the unique tourism experiences that we have to offer as a destination”.