Monday, 02 July 2012 02:30
By Everton Barnes
Antigua St. John’s - Antigua & Barbuda is missing an opportunity to make use of the lull in the cruise tourism season to undertake a comprehensive cleanup of the capital, St John’.
This is the view of an official in the tourist trade who penned an open letter to the Minister of Tourism, John Maginley.
The official, writing as a concerned taxpayer, said the summer season with three ships calling in May, one in June and two each in July, August and September, is an ideal time to undertake a cleanup of the city in preparation for the upcoming winter season.
“This is the time period that the Government of Antigua & Barbuda should be sprucing up St John’s in preparation for the winter Tourist season that will be soon on us again. Is our desire for the tourists to come here once again and see (1) dirty streets with green slime? (2) Open manholes accidents waiting to happen and pay to damages to tourists due to them falling into these holes? And (3) open dirty drains in Lower Nevis Street area?” he asked.
The official pointed to the unfinished ferry dock area on lower Long Street and the problems it has caused including a court case involving the manager of a casino in the area. He said the ongoing construction work has severely affected the flow of traffic in lower St John’s.
He also asked about the project where Royal Caribbean had proposed to be financing a cruise passenger facility in St John’s, and he questioned why the Antigua Pier Group is sitting on its laurels with much work to be done in preparation for the winter season.
Another area of his concern is the Wapping Beach facility back of the old Bryson’s Supermarket building now laying waste and which has become what he termed, an ‘eyesore’.
The letter is urging those concerned to get into action to do what is necessary to give the country a new, cleaner look for the winter season 2012-13.
An Open Letter to the Minister of Tourism - A Missed Opportunity
The government of Antigua & Barbuda, specifically the Ministry of Tourism, missed out on a great opportunity regarding the Tourism sector.
St John’s city has become a ghost town literally with just about three cruise ships in May, one single cruise ship arriving for the entire month of June and just two cruise ships scheduled for the months of July, August and September, respectively.
This is the time period that the Government of Antigua & Barbuda should be sprucing up St John’s in preparation for the winter Tourist season that will be soon on us again.
Is it our desire for the tourists to come here once again and see dirty streets with green slime, the open manholes accidents waiting to happen and pay damages to tourists falling into them, and open, dirty drains in the lower Nevis Street area? The List can go on and on.
Another matter of serious concern is the unfinished ferry dock area at lower Church and Long Streets. We had a highly publicised event in the media by Dr. Clarence Henry where the Manager of Kings Casino was hauled publicly before the Court and charged for vandalism of public property by removing the barricade at the facility, yet months later the facility remains as it is and causing a serious diversion of traffic flow which the taxi drivers have been complaining about in their movement of Tourists from the City.
In addition to that even the entertainment business the Coast was closed down as patrons couldn’t get access to the facility. Are we really serious about this Tourism business?
We have the situation with the enhancement of the cruise ship port facility. I recalled Mr. Dundas indicating about two years ago that the investment with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines was not happening and then he was castigated by Mr. Pole and the Honourable Minister that the project was scaled down from US $100 million to US $60 million. What has happened to this project?
My understanding is that the Port Authority is broke but what about the organisation called the Antigua Pier Group that Mr. Pole heads? What are they being paid for? What are their plans? What are they do doing about the maintenance and or the dredging of the port and enhancement of the port area? Isn’t it now a good time to make the city and the area ready for the winter season?
We also had the failure of the Wapping Beach facility downtown behind the old Bryson’s Supermarket for which the Government paid the investors millions and it is just sitting there destitute and gathering moss and an eyesore to the cruise ship tourists when they come in to Antigua.
Are we going to wait until the cruise Lines and the tourists Starts complaining about our products before we decide to act?
Are we going to wait until the cruise ships pull out of Antigua and the tourists decide to choose other destinations before we act?
In the meantime the minister brings in a company and pays a huge sum of money to tell us what we already know needs to be done. Where is that report anyway? We know that they have already received advanced payment so it would be good to see what they have produced on their glossy paper.
There is still time to see some action before the season starts again and we don’t miss the opportunity or miss the boat and boats, literally.
Concerned Tax Payer