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Tourism ministers meet on joint partnerships

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ST JOHNS, Antigua – A historic meeting was held between the Honourable Asot Michael, Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Tourism, Economic Development Investment and Energy and Ontario’s Minister of Tou

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ST JOHNS, Antigua – A historic meeting was held between the Honourable Asot Michael, Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Tourism, Economic Development Investment and Energy and Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, the Honourable Michael Coteau, at Minister Coteau’s Bay Street office during Minister Michael’s recent visit to Toronto.

In attendance at the meeting of the Ministers were Mr. Rohan Hector, Special Advisor to the Minister and Chairman of the St. Johns Development Corporation, Mr. Colin James, CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority and Antigua and Barbuda Consul General in Toronto, Ms. Ann-Marie Layne.

Minister Michael brought greetings to Minister Coteau on behalf of the government and people of Antigua and Barbuda and both leaders readily agreed that many Antiguans and Barbudans living in Toronto helped build the Canadian economy. Coteau, who is of Grenadian heritage, was reminded by Michael of the close relationship Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada enjoysthrough the 7-nation Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, (OECS) and the need for Canada to strengthen that bond.

Michael He shared information on the government’s plan to expand and improve the islands tourism infrastructure, citing agreements that have already been recently signed for the construction of luxury accommodations, a golf course and high end shopping facilities.

Minister Michael invited Minister Coteau to visit Antigua andBarbuda to explore how both nations might work in partnership to increase their visitor arrivals. Michael specifically raised the possibility of collaborating on offering double-destination holidays to visitors from China. He suggested packaging a visit to Canada and to Antigua and Barbuda as one trip and sell sameto both the high-end Chinese traveller as well as their fast growing middle class. The Ministers agreed that the idea was worth consideration but that logistics would have to be carefully worked out and planned to take it to the next step.

Minister Michael also used the opportunity to broach Minister Coteau with a concept paper to establish training facilities in Antigua for the utilization of Canadian athletes, particularly in the winter months.

In presenting his proposal, Michael cited the abundance of naturally talented athletes in the OECS but the lack of proper facilities in the region for training. He made the case that such a training facility, built by the government of Canada, would also be a tangible contribution to sports development in the Eastern Caribbean, one that would be recognized by all the people and appreciated by the youth. “The construction of such a facility would be an enduring symbol of the friendship of Canada and the members of the OECS” Minister Michael said.

In his presentation Michael also recognized the success Canada enjoys in the Commonwealth and Olympic games, suggesting thatthe Canadian Minister may wish to consider hosting a Hemispheric Commonwealth Games to be staged alternately in Canada and Antigua. Minister Michael was confident that such an event would bring the additional benefit of promoting the all-important “Sports Tourism” product in both countries.

In concluding, Minister Michael took the opportunity to speak of theenergy component of his Ministerial portfolio, referring to Canada’s leadership in the field of renewable energy technology. He recognized that energy was not under Coteau’s portfolio but nonetheless suggested there were opportunities between both countries in this essential area for joint ventures and public/private sector partnerships.

Both Proposals were well received by Minister Coteau who thanked Minister Michael and the members of the delegation for their visitand gave his assurance that the positions put forward would be given careful consideration. Antigua and Barbuda’s Consul General in Toronto Ms. Ann Marie Layne would provide immediate follow-up with Minister Coteau’s office on the plans and proposal put forward on behalf of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.