Antigua and Barbuda joins the rest of the world in commemorating 2017 as the year of sustainable tourism for development. In this regard, the Ministry of Tourism via its Sustainable Tourism Unit today (Thurs) officially launched it calendar of activities all geared towards recognizing the aims of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). These aims are to raise awareness on the contribution of sustainable tourism to national development, mobilize stakeholders in making the sector a catalyst for positive change, and to foster change in policies, business practices and consumer behavior in tourism.
Senior Tourism Officer and Head of the Sustainable Tourism Unit Mrs. Vashti Casimir, in outlining Antigua and Barbuda’s plans stated that all activities were organized with the intent of highlighting Tourism’s role in economic growth, social inclusiveness, resource efficiency, cultural values, and mutual understanding. These activities are inclusive of the launch of the cultural and natural heritage map series which identifies over 50 historical sites and how to get to them, the launch of the John Hughes Community Tourism Project as well as continued work with the Swetes and Freetown areas, a reuse of waste workshop for local craft persons and the establishment of the South Western corridor as “Green” (the area from Swetes to John Hughes).
Minister of Tourism the Hon. Asot A. Michael who declared the year launched, spoke extensively of his Ministry’s commitment to keeping the very vital industry sustainable. “It will not be business as usual; nor will we be so myopic as to confront our national development through single lenses. In this year that is dedicated to tourism for sustainable development, we will see more focus on a change in policy, practices in business, and behavior of consumers to achieving a more sustainable sector,” stated Minister Michael.
The Hon. Tourism Minister who also has responsibility for the Ministries of Economic Development, Investment and Energy is of the view that all aspects of nation building would have a direct bearing on Tourism and as such the notion of a renewed focus on sustainability within the sector has the full support of the government.
According to the UNWTO UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, “This is a unique opportunity to build a more responsible and committed tourism sector that can capitalize its immense potential and to this the Hon. Minister of Tourism and the Government of Antigua and Barbuda concurs.
“My Ministry and the Government of Antigua and Barbuda agree with this profound sentiment. A sustainable approach to tourism will lead to the development of innovative, quality tourism products and services that will make the Antigua and Barbuda even more attractive”, said Minister Michael.
The UNWTO will be kept abreast of the progress of the plans and activities being undertaken by the Ministry of Tourism Antigua and Barbuda. Each of the activities will be reported to the UNWTO on an ongoing basis so that the achievements throughout the international year can be documented and communicated with all global counterparts.
Head of the Sustainable Tourism Unit in Antigua and Barbuda Mrs. Casimir has relayed that by actively participating in the International Year designation, Antigua and Barbuda stands to benefit from world-wide visibility and association with the values of the United Nations in a global initiative with unique networking opportunities.