Minister Michael remarks on Commencement of Dredging
Feb 17, 2015: First of all, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all of you for joining us on this momentous occasion for Antigua and Barbuda and her future as a favored port-of call for cruise lines.
Let me begin by acknowledging that Antigua and Barbuda and the cruise industry have enjoyed a mutually rewarding
relationship over the decades – – – although – – – in recent years we have watched with concern as neighboring islands compete with us, successfully growing their share of cruise visitors.
It was the Antigua & Barbuda labor Party ( ABLP) Administration that was responsible for the growth of the Cruise Industry in our fair country. Indeed It was the ABLP that was on the move with the Cruise Industry more than any other Island in the Eastern Caribbean.
At the time Antigua and Barbuda was on par with St Maarten as the preferred marquis destination. We were the first destination in the entire Eastern Caribbean to have four (4) dedicated Cruise Berths exclusively for Cruise Ships even before St Marten and all other destinations in the Eastern Caribbean and we saw the numbers tripled after the 2nd Cruise Berth was built to handle the larger ships that were in the market at that time.
Unfortunately due to a change of government Administration ten (10) years ago all of these strides were not capitalized on and some were even removed in some cases. It is the intention of this Government to put the Cruise Industry on the Front Burner and bring back Cruise Tourism to the Forefront for the people of A&B. The commencement of the dredging Operations will put us firmly back on the path of growth for our cruise industry. Since taking office reclaiming our place as a favored Caribbean cruise port has therefore been a priority, acknowledging that the service we provide must excel in this competitive era.
Let me assure you that this government is determined to transform the way Antigua’s tourism sector does business
to keep pace with the changes in the marketplace. To this end Chairman Hector and I …. along with have other tourism officials have been meeting with the executives of the cruise lines and with some promises on the government’s part, I am pleased to share with you that key partners continue to show their confidence and their support in our country.
The biggest challenge we face as a cruise destination is the upgrade of our facilities to accommodate the new larger vessels that are being deployed. This is a top priority because going forward, this will enable Antigua to offer itineraries to the new cruise-lines and as a consequence, see a further increase in visitors. To this end, improvements for the Port of St. John’s and
the long-term infrastructural development plans for both the Port and City of St John’s is a priority.
The continued collaboration and support of all local cruise tourism stakeholders will allow the country to guarantee a
first-class experience for our valued cruise line partners and the thousands of prospective cruise guests that visit
our shores each year will continue to do so. It has been evident that within the cruise industry, this destination continues to put forward a strong product. This is credited to the varied on-island tours & attractions. As government, we will do our part to provide the infrastructure to make our cruise product competitive and continue to thrive.
So, although we are seeing growth in cruise ship calls – – – for a number of years the Cruise Industry Executives have been requesting the maintenance and sweeping of the inner St. Johns Harbour. To undertake the on-going responsibility, this government sought assistance from China Civil Engineering and Construction Company to fund the sweeping. § On December 22nd a Financing agreement was reached and contract signed for the total sum of $3,997,000.
§ In short order – – on the 9th of January – – China Civil Engineering and Construction Company and the Government of Antigua and Barbuda signed a sweeping contract with Ansa Mcall of Trinidad and Tobago. § Mobilization fees were paid to the contractor on the 16th of January. § Pre-dredge survey works commenced on the 12th of February, 2015
I’m therefore particularly pleased and proud to report that commencement of the actual sweeping will begin after the
Prime Minister, the Honorable Gaston Browne cuts the ribbon. The works will continue until the 21st of March, with final
completion certification expected by March 31st.