Tourism Week Address by Hon. Chief Minister, Mr. Victor Banks

anguillian
By anguillian December 4, 2017 11:26

 

 

 

Fellow Anguillians — My People:

This year and the year ahead are predicted to being extremely challenging for our island. Most of the analysis going into these predictions is based on the impacts of the most severe weather event to make landfall in the recorded history of our region.
This prediction simply acknowledges the level of devastation wrought upon our island by Hurricane Irma. But one factor in this analysis is missing. And that is, the resilience and the indomitable spirit of the Anguillian people. That factor though unique to our history is also contagious. It affects everyone who is a part of our community.

In this context, the response of the Anguillian people in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma has indeed possessed the spirits of all persons and groups of persons who have become a part of our island, whether through relationships; through business; or through some other incident of fate.
I therefore consider the theme for this Tourism Week most appropriate because it captures the essence of all those who for whatever reason occupy this space — this special part of God’s creation. The theme: “Extraordinary is in our Nature: Resilient and Rebuilding Sustainably” clearly articulates our mission to build even stronger and better than before. That extraordinary spirit of resilience drives us, as it did our forebears, to stay the course despite the enormity of the task and the challenges we must face.

And notwithstanding the optimism and determination to overcome that propels us — we know that sacrifices are necessary to achieve success. And so as we celebrate our Tourism Industry this week we must admonish the stakeholders in the industry, namely, the entire Anguillian Community, not to adopt ‘the business as usual approach”. We must all be prepared to share a part of the burden/costs.
This must not be seen as a time to proceed about our business with callous disregard for the many persons who need our help and support. This is a time to show the world that though we have been battered we are determined to build an even stronger and better Anguilla together, based on fair and equitable principles.

Someone may ask the question: Why are we celebrating Tourism Week during the uncertainty of the restoration of our tourism plant? Are we not putting ourselves in a position to be ridiculed? My view is that the majority of the clientele that patronize our products and services are impressed by the strength of the Anguillian people and will rally to our support despite the inconveniences at this time. They are with us when we say that “we have been ravaged but we are still ravishing”. I know this — because I am constantly receiving accolades regarding the way our community has managed the recovery. They admire our resolve and our spirit of optimism and hope.

I have said all that to say this. This Tourism Week is an opportunity to put our differences aside and apply an “all hands to the plough” approach. Every positive word or statement is a reinforcement of the importance of getting our island back on track.
The Anguilla Tourist Board has a program of activities designed to develop more interaction among stakeholders. I must say that there have been many incidents of kindness throughout this ordeal — and such charitable conduct highlights the fact that in times of challenge the best of our Anguillianism comes to the fore. But it must not be episodic or sporadic. It must define us.
I believe that the investors in our Tourism Industry have been extremely supportive in responding to the plight of workers — it can always be more at times like these — but it has been considerable and considerate. We must be grateful for their support and generosity. They could have walked away. But I believe that they were encouraged by our positive attitude and our expressions of hope — articulated even in the midst of scenes of destruction all around us.
We have come a long way, since that horrible Wednesday in September with its merciless winds, which in just a few hours, changed the circumstances of our island dramatically. But we still have a long way to go. Complacency at this time could cause us to squander the efforts and the gains we have made over the last ten weeks.

The naysayers are themselves beginning to believe that we can do it — as the images of the recovery become more obvious. Positive messages from ANGLEC like “lights for Christmas” brightens every corner of our island and energizes even those persons that have suffered severe losses — to abandon their thoughts of despair and join in the chorus of hope and the determination to rebuild our island stronger ; better; and more sustainably.

On Thursday, I attended the graduation ceremony for the Albena lake-Hodge Comprehensive School. That Class of 2017 is reportedly the largest graduating class in our island’s history. As usual I was moved by the tremendous talent displayed by the students as they celebrated this milestone in their lives. And it caused me to reflect on the several realities associated with the staging of that event.
Firstly, Hurricane Irma did not blow away the hopes and dreams of some two hundred young people in that graduating class.
Secondly, their lives were among the many lives that were spared the ravages of Hurricane Irma.
Thirdly, it is our job to rebuild Anguilla stronger and better to secure the future for these talented young people.
And finally, these are the men and women of tomorrow — the future leaders of our country — who are watching and learning from our conduct today how to manage the many challenges they will encounter in their lives tomorrow.

In essence, we have an awesome responsibility as we deal with the issues of restoring our country in general, but more particularly, the main industry that drives our economy thus providing the wherewithal to meet our obligations to all our citizens, including these young people.
So let the theme of this Tourism Week describe and define our efforts as we continue to show the world that we are an extraordinary people, And that resilience and the determination rise again is a part of our DNA.

May God Bless Us All — as we pursue this noble enterprisetogether! And May God Bless Anguilla!

(Published without editing by The Anguillian newspaper.)

anguillian
By anguillian December 4, 2017 11:26

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