PM Browne outlines several developments in the works to help boost Antigua & Barbuda’s economy
ST. JOHN’S, ANTIGUA & BARBUDA — As Prime Minister Gaston Browne recently highlighted key tourism developments underway in the country, he lambasted some hotel operators for exacerbating poverty by not paying their employees sufficient wages.
The prime minister spoke to the sobering reality for some low-wage earners while responding to media questions surrounding the future of Jolly Beach Resort, which was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and which Browne explained that his government has been going through “a full process” to reopen.
“So, I’m explaining to the people of Antigua and Barbuda some of the challenges we have with these new-end hotel products and even, generally speaking, these all-inclusives that do not pay their staff well,” he said.
“What they’re doing there is that they’re literally perpetuating poverty within the society and when you have poverty within the society, you end up with all kinds of NCDs (non-communicable diseases), problems and so on.”
Browne underscored the severity of the issue by pointing out that some people develop NCDs only because “the reality is some of them just have to eat the cheap, high-sugar foods…because they can’t afford to eat better because they’re not making enough money”.
This, he said, further emphasizes the need for Antigua to “increase our aspirations” in terms of tourism development.
Tourism development projects in the pipeline
While granting that diversification of the tourism industry will not “happen overnight”, Prime Minister Browne nonetheless stressed that the government must take steps towards that goal now.
“That is why we’ve invited PLH to Discovery Land to develop this product on Barbuda, which will be a high-end product and it will complement our Jumby Bay product,” he said, adding that despite Jumby Bay’s small size, it is one of the major contributors to the economy due to its high-end nature.
Speaking to a resort project by celebrity Robert DeNiro in the works, Browne also said he has been urging the star actor to commence construction, noting that “I know construction has started already on the expansion and renovation of the Nobu restaurant in Barbuda”.
Additionally, notes from the latest Cabinet meeting revealed that an investment team in Holland plans to spend some US$300 million in Antigua to construct a new hotel that will create “as many as 400 jobs during the construction phase and an equal number when the new hotel and convention center are operational” in 2023 or 2024.