“Extraordinary is in our Nature: Resilient and Rebuilding Sustainably” Tourism Week Address November 26th – December 1st, 2017

anguillian
By anguillian December 4, 2017 11:15

 

 

 

This week we observe Tourism Week from November 26th to December 1st, 2017 under the theme “Extraordinary is in our Nature; Resilient and Rebuilding Sustainably”. In a post-Irma Anguilla, the theme chosen for Tourism week is one that is applicable to all of Anguilla not just the Tourism sector. I do not wish to rehash the events of September 6th, 2017 as these events will be etched in the minds of many for a lifetime. However, I would like to say thanks to God for bringing us through what has been considered the worst hurricane to hit the Caribbean islands ever. Our thoughts and prayers must also be with our Caribbean neighbours who suffered a similar fate, be it from hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria. Anguillians are certainly extraordinary and resilient by nature. Our history teaches us this. This has also been shown every time a hurricane has struck Anguilla and this time was no different. Anguillians in the days after hurricane Irma were busy cleaning up after the storm and beautifying our island despite how difficult it would have seem at the time. The trucking companies, backhoe operators and community organizers must be commended for giving of their time, equipment and expertize in assisting in getting the island cleaned up.
There is a saying that “through adversity comes opportunity”. Hurricane Irma was certainly devastating but there are many lessons and opportunities that should be garnered from it. It is an opportunity to rebuild better than before in an effort to weather the next big storm. All over the island you see persons replacing their wooden and galvanize roofs with concrete. Many of the restaurants damaged during the hurricane are also rebuilding to ensure that they are able to withstand the next hurricane. For a few years now we have been hearing that the Tourism plant, mainly our hotels have become tired and in need of modernizing. Irma has presented this opportunity not only to repair but to remodel their properties and present to our visitors the best facilities possible.
Our leaders must also look at the opportunities presented by this storm. It is evident that had the path of Irma moved 3 or 4 miles to the south of the path it took, Anguilla would have received less damage and would have been ready for Tourist. If we are going to rebuild sustainably it is important that we ensure proper air access in and out of Anguilla. The lengthening of the runway at the Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport must become the next priority for Anguilla. With Tourism being the lifeblood of this country, we cannot afford not to have this facility. We cannot afford to be dependent on others for our livelihood. It is also important for evacuation during storms. Luckily for us, this storm came during September, a time when our industry is usually closed, but let us not forget that Hurricane Lenny came on November 17th, 1999 when most hotels were heavily occupied. Evacuation cannot happen through another island’s airport as that island will also be doing evacuations of their tourists.
Our disaster preparedness policies must also be resilient. Certain aspects of our island preparedness specifically in the Tourism Sector must be looked at, modernized and in some cases become mandatory. One of these policies that come to mind is our policy on evacuations prior to a storm. We need to make it mandatory for tourist evacuations prior to a hurricane (category to be determined). When you have a hurricane of the nature of Irma, the effects of having tourist on the island in the aftermath of the storm can be catastrophic. There are many more of these policies that need to be modernized and enforced.
During the period that the industry is rebuilding, let us not lose sight of the most important asset we have on Anguilla, its people. We must use this opportunity to train our people working in industry to deliver world class service. Take the opportunity to re-train our ferry boat operators, our porters, our front line employees at the ports amongst others. Take the opportunity to create an environment that will create memorable experiences for our visitors.
Anguilla was battered by Hurricane Irma, but we are bouncing back. Hotel properties are beginning to open, restaurants are also opening, service and activities are up and running. This may not be the season we had hoped for, but we are opening for business. Once open, we must put our best foot forward. We must make the very best of whatever the season offers so that the word gets out there that Anguilla is still truly the number 1 island in the Caribbean. We are certainly “Extraordinary by our Nature: and we will need to rebuild an industry that is resilient and sustainable for future generations”

anguillian
By anguillian December 4, 2017 11:15

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