Tourism Minister the Hon. Asot Michael is appealing for an adjustment in the allocation given to his ministry in Budget 2017.
During debate of the estimates in the House of Representatives last week, Mr. Michael reported the successes of his department in the face of economic uncertainty throughout the world. However, he insists that in order for Antigua and Barbuda to position itself to withstand the challenges and record further growth, his ministry, specifically tourism, must be adequately financed in order to execute its plans and programmes. He wants budget technicians to review the allocation with a view of increasing the figures.
“I am making a special appeal that the additional funds that were cut from our original capital budget of $13M down to $1.4M be looked at again. These funds were earmarked for four capital expenditure projects and it is imperative that our finance technicians understand the importance of the Tourism sector, which is a driver for the entire economy,” the minister stated. “I am appealing to the Honourable Prime Minister to use your good office Sir to ensure that senior technicians support your vision and provide the necessary resources for this vital industry.”
Approximately 31 and a half million dollars have been allocated to the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy in Budget in Budget 2016.
Minister Michael’s appeal was boosted earlier by former Prime Minister Sir Lester Bird. During his contribution to the budget debate, Sir Lester stated that the allocation given to the Ministry of Tourism is inadequate and wants it to be increase, especially in the area of promotion and marketing.
Describing it as a major contributor to the country’s “economic fortunes”, Minister Michael declared that the accolades bestowed on the country as a strategic player within the tourism industry regionally and internationally are an indication of greater things to come. However, amidst the achievements, Minister Asot Michael is cautioning key players within the industry not to let down their guards, and to be mindful of the uncertainty that prevails in Europe through Brexit, and in North America with the election of a new president.
“Right now, the world faces a high degree of political and economic unpredictability. In the United States, the Caribbean region’s biggest trading partner and the country from which a large number of tourists come, there is great uncertainty over its future direction,” he noted.
“Will America become a fortress, ripping up trade agreements; closing its market; denying entry to immigrants, and forcing its business community to operate only in their domestic market, or will a more internationalist approach prevail – one in which the US continues to be an open economy that encourages liberalized trade and transnational investment?”
Heading one the most important departments of government and with another bumper season predicted for tourism in 2017, the Hon. Asot Michael has pledged “to recapture and improve Antigua and Barbuda’s standing, and we are delighted that our efforts to punch above our weight are delivering tangible benefits for all to see.”