ST. JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda – 16th June 2015 …….The statements made by the Leader of the Opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) and reported in the Observer Newspaper and Observer Online of June 13 in relation to Ambassador Xiao are misleading and fail to reflect the facts.
Ambassador Xiao introduced investors in the West Indies Oil Company (WIOC) as strategic investors to promote the business development of the oil industry. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has done all the necessary due diligence with respect to the investors and ensured the transparency of the investment in the interest of both the Government and the people of Antigua and Barbuda. In addition, both the investors and the Government have retained major international law firms to review key aspects of the transaction.
The entire transaction relating to WIOC will comply with all legal requirements, both in Antigua and Barbuda as well as, where relevant, the laws of the United Kingdom. As negotiations progress, the Government will inform the public from time to time on the details of the transaction
The statements made by Mr. Lovell, as reported in the Observer article, are unverified and false. The Government respects the Freedom of the Press but also reminds the Observer Group of the importance of reporting in a fair and balanced manner and would recommend that in future, the Observer Group should invite an official response from the Government when quoting statements made by the Opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) on the public platform or through the press. The people of Antigua and Barbuda deserve responsible reporting by the press on matters so fundamental to the economy and investors who bring new opportunities for job creation and growth.
The Government therefore advises, that before printing further statement, whether editorial or reports on third party claims, related to Ambassador Xiao or any other official within the Foreign Service, the Editor of the newspaper should invite a response and comment from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, under whose responsibility all ambassadorial appointments are handled.
DEEP BAY, Antigua and Barbuda – 12th June 2015……The country’s leader the Honourable Gaston A. Browne, on the eve of his Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party’s (ABLP)first anniversary in office, signed two grant aid agreements in the areas of fisheries and disaster reduction with Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Takashi Uto.
On the margins of the ABLP’s Anniversary Retreat, Prime Minister Browne and Vice Minister Uto signed a Fisheries Equipment Improvement Project and a Disaster Reduction provision of equipment support grant aid agreement following discussions on a wide range of issues including United Nations Security Council Reform, UN Human Rights Council and Climate Change.
Prime Minister Browne said that Antigua and Barbuda values its relations with Japan as over the years the government of Japan has assisted the country particularly in the areas of Fisheries, JICA Training for government workers and the Grassroots Human Security projects. He also thanked Japan for removing the Per Capita criteria regarding eligibility for grant aid following his discussions with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last year.
Vice-Minister Uto, who is visiting Antigua for the 16th Ministerial Meeting of the OECS on the Sustainable use of Living Marine Resources said that Japan is looking forward to strengthening the relations that exist with Antigua and Barbuda and is prepared to consider providing assistance to the country in the provision of equipment and other resources to develop a deep sea fishing industry.
The talks between Prime Minister Browne and Vice Minister Uto at the Grand Royal Antigua Resort, also included Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs Minister the Hon. Arthur Nibbs and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister the Hon. Charles Fernandez.
ST. JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda – 12th June 2015……Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and Minister of Finance and Corporate Governance the Hon. Gaston Browne on Wednesday appointed Chinese Billionaire Xiao Jianhua as Ambassador-at-Large for Antigua and Barbuda.
In presenting the Letter of Appointment to Mr. Xiao, Prime Minister Browne noted that he has been invested with the authority to promote investment, trade and commerce, business and tourism development, to include negotiations with the authorities and business entities of all states and territories.
The country’s leader also noted that Mr. Xiao will also advise the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Tourism and Investment of the potential for economic cooperation, commerce and investment between Antigua and Barbuda and various states and territories.
Ambassador Xiao is the founder and owner of the powerful Tomorrow Holdings, which controls nearly 1 trillion Yuan (US$160 billion) of assets ranging from banks and securities houses.
Tomorrow Holdings controls over nine listing companies holding shares in over thirty financial institutions, including 12 city commercial banks, six securities companies, trust firms, insurers, mutual fund companies, futures firms and asset management companies.
During his visit to St. John’s, Ambassador Xiao and Prime Minister Browne discussed areas of investment, the expansion of the West Indies Oil Company and his collaboration on promotional campaigns for Antigua and Barbuda.
~ Regional tourism development agency presents 10 awards to top Caribbean and US journalists for exceptional coverage of the Caribbean ~
NEW YORK, NY, 4 June, 2015 – Some of the top travel writers and photographers from the Caribbean and the US were celebrated at an exclusive event here in recognition of their outstanding coverage of the Caribbean region.
The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, presented awards to nine journalists for the exceptional role they played in 2014 in driving Caribbean tourism through their coverage of the region. The awards were presented at the CTO Travel Media Awards Luncheon at the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel on Thursday 4 June, as part of the programme of activities for Caribbean Week New York. It was co-sponsored by the New York Times and Jamaica and was attended by several Caribbean tourism ministers, directors and dignitaries, as well as industry executives and other well regarded journalists.
The following are the winners:
Been There, Wrote That – Best Feature Article In A Consumer Magazine
Jad Davenport – Islands – Proof of Paradise (Martinique)
I Couldn’t Have Written Better Myself – Best Feature In A Consumer Newspaper
Baz Dreisinger – New York Times – On a Caribbean Rum Trail
Inner Circle King– Best Feature Article In A Trade Publication
Brian Major – Travel Pulse – History Lessons Live at Martinique’s La Savane des Esclaves (Martinique)
Virtual Visitor Award – Best Online Feature
Luisita Lopez Torregrosa – New York Times – Seeing the Whole of Antigua (Antigua & Barbuda)
Golden Mic – Best Broadcast Feature
Better Mornings Atlanta (CBS Atlanta) – Better Cooking segment with the Jamaican sisters, Michelle and Suzanne Rousseau
Not Lost in Translation (Best Feature by a US or Caribbean Journalist that appeared in Foreign Media)
Samantha Diaz – El Nueva Dia – Una Francia en el Caribe (Martinique)
From Infinity…And Abroad! (Best Feature by a foreign Journalist that appeared in US or Caribbean Media)
Eric Vohr – Dallas Morning News – Explore Volcanic Mountains in Dominica (Dominica)
Oh Snap!– Best Photograph accompanying a feature
Michaela Urban – The New York Times – Explore Volcanic Mountains in Dominica
No Anansi Story! (Best Feature by a Caribbean Journalist)
Peter Swain – MACO – Nevisian Fare (Nevis)
They Like Me, They Really Like Me! – Best of the Best
Baz Dreisinger – New York Times – On a Caribbean Rum Trail
A record 125 entries were received this year in nine categories and judged by a panel of media and public relations experts led by chief judge, Yuriy Boykiv, the CEO of Findr Group, a leading group of advertising and communications agencies. The other judges were Josh Khan of the public relations agency, Khan Travel Communications; Steven Lott, director of international corporate communications at The Boeing Company; Jeffrey Ory, president and CEO of il Stratega and chair of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Travel & Tourism Section; and Deborah Wakefield, VP of communications & public relations at CityPASS® and chair of the associates council of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).
Click here for photographs from the various Caribbean Week New York events.
Caribbean Week sponsors and supporters include by Academy Engraving, American Express, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, ASM, Academy Engraving, Association of Travel Marketing Executives, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Caribbean Airlines, Caribbean News Service, Caribbean Open Tour – Martinique; CarnivalInfo.com, Cayman Islands, CitiTech Solutions, Conde Nast, Curacao, Dominica, Empire State Building, Grace Foods, Haiti, Jamaica, Laura Davidson Public Relations, Lou Hammond & Associates, Manhattan Beer, Martinique, MarryCaribbean.com, Montserrat, The New York Times, Puerto Rico, Routes, St. Kitts, Saint Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Martin, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, The Atrebor Group, Travel + Leisure, Trinidad & Tobago, TripAdvisor, Unique Vacations/Sandals Inc, US Virgin Islands and Wyndham New Yorker.
St. Peter’s Church
Thursday, June 4 2015
Good afternoon, Church. Allow me to apologize for my absence from Parham on a day, and at this memorial service, when the entire community needs to embrace those who have suffered such a great loss.
Several government officials and I traveled to New York City to meetings with investors and tourism promotion officials. I am truly sorry for my absence and for my inability to be with you at this time. Today is truly one of the saddest days of my life.
No more that burly gait
No more that joyous face
No more that radiant smile
No more that resonant voice
No more on this earth, my brother
Urcil “Sheik” Martin
Yet, in my heart, he is here
In my bones and in my marrow,
Sheik lives on
In my memory,
In my every conscious moment, he stands beside me as he always did.
My brother, and my friend;
My TRUE friend!
The chain of love he forged
Has not been broken by his untimely death
Nor has it been in the least bit weakened
If anything, the chain has grown stronger
Reaching beyond this mortal life
To that better place where Urcil must be
Laughing and happ;y in the company of the Almighty
I do not pretend that I do not feel anger at his loss
I do not pretend that my heart is not bursting wi9th the grief of his passing
I do not pretend that I do not question why
I do all these things
And, I cry inside, as I weep outside
For “Sheik” did not deserve to die so young and so sudden
So, we come today to mourn the passing and celebrate the life of Urcil “Sheik” Martin, my friend, my brother , my constituent and comrade. We all feel the deep sense of loss for a loved one who is cut down in his prime enjoying the fullness of life still filled with so much hope, so much dreams, so much love, and so much more to give; so much more to share. For Urcil, was still a man in his prime with today’s health care forty-seven (47) years is still a young age, and none of us expec cted him to be cut down so suddenly without warning, without any time to say a proper goodbye.
Bit we have lived long enough to know that life is not fair, and none of us are guaranteed this precious givt of life.
We live e3very day by the mercy of God, and to Him we must give constant and incessant praise accepting his mercies and using every day to do good, to be kind, to love, to share, to live.
Nevertheless, I take this opportunity to express my heartfelt condolences to the Martin family on the tragic loss suffered through the actions of another villager. Urcil Martin and I went to the Sunnyside School at the same time. He was my Head Boy and a very intelligent student who learned his lessons well. In those days only the well to do and affluent were able to attend the Sunnyside School, however Urcil was one of the few students who due to his intellectual ability was able to secure a scholarship from the Mill Reef Club.
It was then that our close friendship was born which later developed into a lifelong bond of brotherhood. In fact, when I began to give consideration to becoming an elected politician, Urcil Martin was the one that brought me to Parham to be introduced to the most influential and grassroot members of the community. From then onwards he became one of my most trusted and loyal campaigners, and went on to become the Vice chairman of the St Peter’s ABLP branch. On the three occasions that I sought public office Urcil Martin was the first person to put his name forward to have me nominated.
I have loved him as a brother and a friend. I know it will be hard for most of us in these circumstances to forgive, but yet in the Book of Matthew, Chapter 18, Verse 21 and 22 tells us how we should respond: Then came Peter to Him and said Lord how oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive Him? Till seven times? Jesus said unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but Until seventy times seven.
As a Christian, the most difficult decision which God calls upon us to make, is the act of forgiveness. I join in all humble prayer to seek forgiveness of the sinner who has caused us this numbing pain, today.
Here lies a very good man. He gave of himself to his community and, by extension, to his country. He sought no reward, he received very little thanks. Here lies before us a hard-working citizen whose honest labour helped to feed his fellow countrymen, while he took care of the needs of his family.
In addition to being a devoted father and partner, Mr. Martin was also a farmer and he gave of his time freely and without limits to his community. As a young man he represented Parham in football. After his playing days were over he was involved in the Parham team playing the role of Coach as well as Counselor to the young players of the Parham Football Club. He was a strong community mobiliser and could be counted upon to assist members of the community in many ways.
In an effort to offer more opportunities to the young men of Parham “Sheik” as he was affectionately called started the (A.B.A.Y.A) Able, Best at all Times, Aim High, Yes We Can, All for One Community Group. This further made him one of the most loved and respected Community minded individuals in the villages of Parham and Pares Village. All in all he was a great community minded person, loved by many and respected by most.
Unfortunately, on the evening of Monday 4th May 2015, at the age of 47 years his life came to an untimely end at the hands of a fellow villager. “Sheik” was hacked to death in his home in a most brutal and callous manner. Urcil is survived by his mother Vanessa Hope Gabriel, his common-law-wife Sherry Martin and six (6) children Sanchez Martin, Crystal Martin, Tralejah Martin, Tana Martin, Dante Hope & Alicia Martin
Indeed, the Parham Community has lost a strong male figure in Mr. Urcil Martin. Mr. Martin did not seek monetary rewards for his unlimited help and assistance to his community. Many a young man in the village can attest to the fact that Mr. Martin through sports has helped them to keep their lives on track. He was a coach, friend and mentor to them. Had it not been for his intervention many of these young men could have been behind bars today. Mr. Martin did not seek the airways to broadcast what he was doing but the many young men lives that he had touched spoke silently of his goodness with appreciation and gratitude.
“Shiek or “Iron Shiek” did not live a life of luxury, quite the contrary he was the sole breadwinner of the family. Indeed he worked to provide for his family; to this end when he was not farming he would be on a painting job.
Here lies a perfectly innocent man who tried to resolve a problem with his neighbor by gentle persuasion and by lawful means. Instead of peace, he met a violent death. Injustice and pain and suffering are our lot today. Christ, our Saviour, suffered death upon the Cross for us and our sins. Let us therefore love one another. Let us abide the commandment of Jesus Christ.
As your Parliamentary Representative, I can only mourn as you are now mourning. The Martin family has suffered a great loss that each of us can feel. I have lost a true brother and genuine friend. We have come to this place, a church, where we ask our God to usher our brother into the Heavenly Kingdom, there to live peaceably with the Angels.
And so, we must take his death as a sign and symbol that we do not know the hour of our final parting. It may be sudden. It may be long. It may be now. It may be later. But whatever and whenever, we must know that those who would sum up our lives must confidently say, that we worked by the sweat of our brow and with the brow of our brain to change the world. That fore sure, and in sum, was true of Urcil “Sheik” Martin as it is true of all truly remarkable men and women.
May we all lend our support to the Martin family, at this time, and to continue to give support long after today passes.
The Famous Philosopher and Poet Kahlil Gibran wrote:
“For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance”.
Dance on my brother “Shiek”! Dance on Urcil!
May his soul rest in eternal peace.
God bless you all. Amen
Minister of Tourism, Economic Development & Energy
Government of Antigua and Barbuda
Opening Ceremony Barbuda Belle Luxury Resort
Cedar Tree Point, Barbuda
Saturday May 30, 2015
Hon Gaston Browne: Prime Minster of Antigua and Barbuda
Hon Arthur Nibbs: Minster of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries, Barbuda Affairs, and
parliamentary representative for Barbuda
Senators the Hon. Adrien Lee and Hon. Shenique Fortune
Members of the Barbuda Council
Dr. Francois and Mrs. Barbara Petit, of Barbuda Belle
Other Government and Barbuda Council officials
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen.
A pleasant good afternoon to you all.
Today marks a very important step in Barbuda’s development.
This opening of the Barbuda Belle Luxury Beach Hotel is historic as it is the first time in over ten years that a new hotel has opened on the sister isle. This represents a vote of confidence in not just the Barbuda council and your parliamentary representative the Hon. Arthur Nibbs,but an expression of confidence in my Government’s management of the economy, this new project is indeed a welcome addition to our tourism product.Who would have thought that the initial stopover visit of a distinguished surgeon to Barbuda in 1991 while going to a fishing tournament in Antigua, would have resulted in what we are celebrating today. Who could have imagined that a casual discussion in June 2013 with Mr. Elvis Burton would have led to the unanimous endorsment by the Barbuda Council for a US$2 million Investment, which provided up to 25 jobs during the construction phase and will now provide 10-12 much needed new jobs right now and up to 25 during the upcoming winter season. It only goes to show that opportunities for investment and country development are readily available to those who seize the initiative and act decisively upon them. As the first green field project to open post the 2014 elections,Barbuda Belle Luxury Beach Hotel with its 7 units at Cedar Point will always be remembered by the people of Barbuda, as being the beginning of what will be the future under an Antigua and Barbuda Labour Government; it is the beginning of realization of the vision to become the fastest growing economy within the Americas.
I believe I can speak for everyone here today by saying that as we arrived at Cedar Point we were blown away and captivated by the beauty of the area. The tranquility and spectacular scenery is a great change of pace from Antigua and strikes the perfect balance. We are truly two very unique islands but one great destination!
Cedar Point stands out as a very special place in Antigua and Barbuda. With its breathtaking beach adjacent to pristine mangroves, you could not have selected a more enchanting location for this type of eco friendly development, which has all the ingredients for a relaxing vacation.
In fact Barbuda Belle Luxury Beach Hotel as seen today has answered those who were critical of this project as there has been absolutely no negative impact on the habitat of our national bird. The largest colony of magnificent Frigate Birds in the western hemisphere peacefully coexists a few minutes away from this remarkable luxury hotel. This oasis of the Caribbean, which is Barbuda Belle, is destined to become the latest jewel in the eco-tourism crown of our beautiful country.
To the investors and owners of Barbuda Belle Dr. Francois and Mrs. Barbara Petit, I extend our congratulations to you in moving forward with this project, in spite of the many obstacles that you faced. Based on our experience, we are fully aware that investors have an almost unlimited opportunity for success when it comes to the placement of their investments. You would not have persevered if you did not believe that your confidence in the Government of Antigua and Barbuda was well placed. True to your calling as a surgeon you have successfully completed the operation and the patient is alive and well!
I understand that plans have already been formulated to expand the hotel by an additional 15 units, with 5 units added each year for the next three years. We are delighted at your vote of confidence in making this decision to continue and more importantly to expand.
When we look at the ascetics of this development, and the efforts that you have made to be environmentally friendly with sustainability as a key focus, you are to be commended and applauded for your efforts.
I understand your choice of material for the construction was made during a trip to Bali, Indonesia, to ensure that you were as eco friendly as possible. However we are particularly delighted that you did so while still maintaining the integrity of the Caribbean style colonial architecture.
The design of Barbuda Belle to be “Green” from the way the resort generates renewable solar energy to your water conservation and management is a shining example of true tourism sustainability. I predict that this resort will be a benchmark for others to follow. The efforts made in this area are in direct alignment with my Ministry’s vision for “The Green Barbuda Renewable Energy Project”, which aims to have 70% to 75% of Barbuda’s electric energy generated by Green solar Power.
Barbuda Belle is therefore playing its part to greatly reduce the current fossil fuel based energy consumption on the island of Barbuda.
As new projects like Barbuda Belle get underway, the commitment that the Government gives is that we will be doing everything in our power to ensure that that the transportation links are in place to move international visitors quickly and efficiently between our two islands.
The Government is fully aware that the success of hotels on the sister island will be directly dependent on the availability of reliable air service between both our islands.
This airlift will ensure the success of not just this project but the host of other first class eco friendly development projects destined for Barbuda.
This new hotel means new opportunities available to all Barbudans for increased jobs, and much more business activities and closer collaboration. The end result will be greater economic growth, but more importantly even closer partnership between the Barbuda Council and the Central Government.
The clear message that I bring today is that our country is one nation! Barbuda’s success is Antigua’s success and Antigua’s success ultimately means that Barbuda too succeeds and grows.
Since assuming office the new ABLP administration has made a tangible commitment at the Ministry of Tourism and the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority to ensure this oneness of purpose, with the integration of the Barbuda tourism team in all our plans and tourism activities.
In the area of cruise tourism, we have embarked upon a strategy to promote Barbuda to the high-end luxury cruise lines. These lines operate smaller ships and are particularly attracted to island like Barbuda.
In fact the lack of a commercial cruise pier is not a disadvantage, as the concept of tendering their passengers ashore for a beach day on a “Robinson Crusoe” type island with some of the most spectacular beaches in the world is a compelling proposition for their wealthy passenger.
Our efforts in this area have now reaped dividends and for the first time we have a record of 12 cruise ships calls that visited Barbuda for this year!
The ABLP Government has been working and delivering!
This is a niche market for Barbuda within the cruise sector where we will see much success as we go forward together.
Ladies and Gentlemen we are fully committed to moving forward as one team, and absolutely focused on ushering in a new phase of unparalleled growth in tourism for our beloved country. What we are celebrating today in the grand opening of the Barbuda Bell Luxury Beach is a promise made by the new Gaston Browne administration to the people of Barbuda and a promise kept!
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Honorable Prime Minister.
May 20, 2015…St. John’s, Antigua…After two days of meetings and discussions between multi-stakeholder groups to include Taxi Associations, Tour Operators Hoteliers, Transport Board, Antigua and Barbuda Airports Authority, Royal Police Force and Ministry of Tourism Officials: there is a meeting of the minds to improve the “ Visitor Experience” in ground transportation. The Ministers of Public Utilities Aviation and Transportation Honourable Robin Yearwood and Tourism Economic Development Investment and Energy Honourable Asot Michael also participated in the discussions.
Minister of Tourism Honourable Asot Michael made it clear that “Tourism is and will remain the key economic driver for Antigua and Barbuda and the “visitor experience is paramount. Working collectively can only bring all those involved to achieve the one common goal of providing the best tourism product across the region”.
Issues discussed were Established Routes, Standards, Legislation and Training to improve the sector.
Minister of Public Utilities Aviation and Transportation Honourable Robin Yearwood applauded the contribution made by Taxi Association Executives in ensuring that the sector is regulated to manage illegal operators, and their members pay more attention to safety and security.
Tourism Consultant Shirlene Nibbs reminded the stakeholders of the Strategic Direction of the destination and the need for all service providers to deliver a “quality visitor experience” that is aligned to the middle to luxury guest we are actively attracting. . “If we want the industry to grow make the economic contribution to its true potential everyone has to play their part,” Nibbs reiterated.
Coming out of the meeting as well is the commitment of stakeholders to review the draft legislation presented by Mr. St. Claire Soleyn that addresses having classification and licensing of selected tourism enterprises.
Also in attendance was Mr. Don Smith VP of Guest Transportation and Airport Operations who made invaluable contributions to the discussions.