HAYDN HUGHES SPEAKS ON TOURISM, AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE IRMA

anguillian
By anguillian October 30, 2017 10:39 Updated

 

 

 

Mr. Haydn Hughes, former Parliamentary Secretary, responsible for Tourism, is still an active voice in national affairs though not now serving in public life as an elected official.
A blogger, social commentator on radio, Facebook, and writer in the print media, Mr. Hughes gave a statement to The Anguillian newspaper in which he spoke on a number of current affairs including tourism and the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Anguilla:

“As you know, tourism is our business,” he stated. “We have seen a significant fall off in Anguilla as it relates to tourism, more so because of Hurricane Irma. It has dissipated our tourism plant and every hotel in Anguilla has suffered. We are here on the grounds of the Anguilla Great House and you can see that every single roof has been torn off.

“Immediately after the hurricane, on the 7th of September, I visited every major hotel in Anguilla and reached out to all of the owners from Four Seasons, Zemi Beach, to others, and I have been in regular contact with them. What I found is that the Anguilla Tourist Board, up to the 19th of October, had not met. It was my position, and I had published it via my Facebook page, that there needs to be an emergency meeting to coordinate our efforts regarding tourism because there is a lot of misinformation out there.

“I have seen the misinformation on Trip Advisor, so I suggested to the Chief Minister and Ministers of Government that we should have a blanket duty free concession for everything coming to Anguilla, for a period of three months, because nothing from nothing leaves nothing.
“Before Hurricane Irma, and the Chief Minister also confirmed this, Government’s revenues were suffering; and Government’s revenues are not going to get any better between Hurricane Irma and the end of the year. So it would have been good if the Government had offered a blanket duty free concession for the rest of the year including building materials, all food items, and on all relief items. As a matter of fact, the Port Authority, Customs, and the Government, should have removed the Customs surcharge and the port charges especially on relief items. Shipping companies have been able to give some sort of discount. People like Maxine Herbert, Ricardo Perez, Bonnie Bloom, APANY in Baltimore, Miami, and New York, the Anguilla Foundation, Thomas (Eddy) Kelly, Connie Harrigan, Vanroy Hodge, the Anguilla Red Cross, the 75 volunteers and the Blanchards, have been doing a tremendous amount of work of hurricane relief.

“As you can see, the Government of Anguilla did not have the financial wherewithal or the motivation in order to facilitate, create, or give humanitarian relief to the people. The best that they (the Government) could have done is to facilitate the humanitarian relief to the people, from all of the agencies and those persons who have been friends of Anguilla and donating to the island.

“That is why I thought that there should be a blanket duty free concession. This would have allowed grocery stores to bring products and sell them at discount rates to give us some relief. That is because, for the next three or four months, it is going to be very difficult in Anguilla. The major hotels in the tourism plant are closed, and over 2,000 people will be unemployed or underemployed for the next few months. The blanket on duty free concession would have helped people along the way because, at the end of the day, it is all about the people. Government will function one way, or the next, but, as I said, it is all about the people.”

“My position was that the Anguilla Tourist Board should have collaborated with all of our tourism partners – whether in the hospitality sector (hotels, villas and restaurants, car rental agencies, ferryboat and charter boat operators). We could have come up with a coordinated effort, and a coordinated message, for the international media.”

Mr. Hughes continued: “One of the things that the Anguilla Government, and, we as a people, fail to understand, is that we are just as British as British citizens. We are a British Overseas Territory and Boris Johnson shouldn’t have been in Anguilla. He is the Foreign Secretary. The Home Secretary should have been in Anguilla. The Foreign Secretary goes to Afghanistan, Syria and places like those, as well as Dominica, but not to Anguilla, TCI, BVI or Bermuda. The Home Secretary should go to these countries.

“We shouldn’t have to subscribe to DFID for any financial assistance. The DFID is the Department for International Development. We are a British territory just like St. Helena; and just like the Falkland Islands. We are British citizens; we can go to Britain; we command jobs and what have you. We can even get on the welfare system if we want to. Anguilla has the first charge on British development aid and the British Government should be responsible to restore Anguilla’s infrastructure.
“We are not asking them to fix back the Great House, the Dungeon Gym or Four Seasons. What we are asking them to do is to build us a modern port facility at Blowing Point. It was the British Government who, in 2009, vetoed the Caribbean Development Bank’s plan to develop that beautiful plan that was done by Jacob’s Consultancy after it was approved by the CDB. The concessions and so forth would have repaid the loan with profit, but the British Government vetoed it on the basis that we had exceeded our borrowing guidelines. This was absolutely ridiculous because, at the end of the day, they don’t like any contingent liability.

“If they can spend almost 300 million pounds in St. Helena, they can spend 50 million pounds in Anguilla to develop our airport because that is important, and tourism is our business.”

anguillian
By anguillian October 30, 2017 10:39 Updated

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