Can you tell us a little about your career to date and what you enjoy about your current role?
In 2009, having spent over 20 years of my career in telecommunications, I made a transition to tourism. I took on the challenge that came with becoming the first chief executive officer of the newly formed Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority. I am pleased to see the advances that we have made in tourism in Antigua and Barbuda over the past 8 years, with additional airlift, a new international airport, improvements to our cruise facilities and growing tourism arrival numbers.
St. John’s is one of the best protected and most scenic harbours in the Caribbean and our four berths can accommodate ships up to the Quantum class. By the end of 2017 we should be able to welcome Oasis class ships.
Our English Harbour National Park has been recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site, and the Georgian styled Nelson’s Dockyard, complete with shops and restaurants, is one of the more popular stops for cruise passengers.
We are also well known for having 365 of the most beautiful beaches in the world, so many of our shore excursions involve world-class coastal experiences, but we also have a lush interior full of opportunities for hiking, cycling and driving adventures.
What difference will your proposed improvements to the cruise infrastructure make to the number of cruise ships and passengers you expect to welcome in the future?
Improvement works commenced in 2016 including maintenance dredging, lengthening and strengthening the pier to allow for the berthing of larger ships, up to a Quantum-class size, as well as major improvements to Antigua’s facilities and downtown area. This allowed for the arrival of Royal Caribbean’s ‘Anthem of the Seas’ in December 2016 heralding the start of a new growth phase for the Antiguan cruise sector.
The ability to accommodate the large ships that are being built today is critical for any cruise destination to remain competitive and to be a major feature on the cruise line itineraries.
Several cruise lines have showed interest in using the destination as a homeport, and we estimate that within the next two to three years, Antigua and Barbuda will be welcoming its one millionth cruise passenger which is the goal we have set for ourselves.
When will the improvements to St John’s Harbour and Barbuda be finished?
In the next 24/36 months most of these improvements will be completed.
Presently, Barbuda can accommodate the smaller cruise lines through the tendering process. Being able to anchor off-shore and tender to 17 miles of deserted pink sand beach in Barbuda is very much appreciated by the the high-end luxury cruise lines.
Last year, we had twelve cruise ship calls from the smaller cruise lines which really made a very significant impact, as Barbuda’s population of only twelve hundred people is relatively small.