Tourism officials call for collective effort in tackling roadworks

By Carlena Knight

A call has been made by the CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA), Colin James, for all stakeholders to play their part in improving the tourism brand locally.

James, who was a speaker at the United Taxi Company Limited’s first annual pre-season ceremony yesterday, was referring to the issue of the traffic congestion caused by the ongoing repairs to the country’s major roadways.

He believes that they all must come together to find a solution to tackle this issue as it is impacting the tourism product.

To date, repairs are still ongoing on the Sir George Walter Highway, the key road used for travel by taxi drivers with tourists from the airport.

“I have been and you have been experiencing it daily with the serious congestion that we are having with the road repairs on the new highway that they are building. I think there has to be a better way because when you have somebody sitting on a flight for eight hours from Europe and then have to sit in a traffic jam for another half hour just to get past a half-mile, that is not good. They start out feeling frustrated and so we have to do better, we have to get the collective minds together and sort this problem out once and for all,” James said.

“We need to really collectively support each other and do better on that respect.”

The CEO also spoke of the integral role that taxi drivers play as, according to him, they are the face of the tourism product.

With this note, he continued to encourage the tourism ambassadors to provide quality service.

“You are one of the major components in the tourism wheel. You are the face and the friendliness of the destination. You’re the informal tour guides, you provide them with inside information that sometimes they are seeking or asking for. You have the power to tell them what’s great about Antigua and Barbuda, so when you’re driving you tell them about the Antigua black pineapple, about your favorite beaches, whatever you do, do it well.

“Experience is a service that you deliver and is key to sustaining our tourism industry and the future of our country. I firmly believe that when you provide that exceptional experience and the quality service for each and every visitor, that is going to be integral to what we do in tourism. All of you are transportation ambassadors,” he added.

Following in the collective effort to improve the product, James revealed that the ABTA will be accompanied by representatives from all the associations at the upcoming World Travel Market to “interact with all the tour operators and help to sell Antigua and Barbuda.”

Saiid Greene, the Managing Director of the Antigua Pier Group, shared sentiments similar to James’s.

Greene, who was also a speaker at the ceremony, not only commended the United Taxi Company but called on the other taxi associations to follow in the footsteps of the UTC as the goal is for all aspects of the tourism product to become more professional.

The United Taxi Company Limited, formerly the United Taxi Association, is the governing body for the taxi drivers at the airport and have been established for over four years. 

The pre-season ceremony, which was held at the old terminal at the VC Bird International Airport, was held under the theme, “Empowerment through efficiency and service quality”.

The UTC at the ceremony following true to the theme donated traffic vests to the police department, more so those attached to the airport.