AIG/FHM chair calls on gov’t for greater investment in yachting sector
Chairman of the Antigua Investment Group/Falmouth Harbour Marina (AIG/FHM), Sir Gerald Watt, is urging the government to give greater attention to the lucrative and growing yachting sector.
At the opening of the FHM’s new superyacht pier last week, Sir Gerald said while the government has been very supportive of the efforts of the locally owned investment group over its 28-years of operation, he appealed to the government to place greater priority on the development of the local yachting sector.
“While we thank the government for your continued support, we must also impress upon our decision makers that more attention must be paid to the yachting sector.
“It is time that yachting gets a seat at the tourism decision making table. The industry is too important to our national economy to continue to be ignored,” said Sir Gerald.
Minister of Tourism, Charles Fernandez, who was also present, acknowledged while there is work to be done to improve support for yachting in Antigua and Barbuda, positive steps have been taken by the government in this direction.
“I will admit, that although I repeatedly advocate that yachting is one of the pillars of our tourism product, along with cruise and air arrivals, we’ve not spent as much attention, or money, on this important sector.
“As a matter of fact, during our COVID lockdown, it is the yachting sector that contributed to keeping some semblance of business for our country.
“There are over 200 yachts, provisioning, buying fuel and persons onboard were going to restaurants, buying food, whenever allowed to do so.
“In addition, it is a fact that yachties spend more than either cruise or airline tourists. As a result of this, we have started to wrap up our attention to this important sector,” said Minister Fernandez.
As part the move to reprioritise its attention on the yachting sector, Fernandez said the government has increased its budgetary allocation for marketing the national yachting industry and is working more closely with industry stakeholders like FHM.
Additionally, the country’s international tourism marketing team now includes a permanent member who will promote Antigua and Barbuda’s yachting industry.
Beyond its association with leisure and luxury, yachting is also a popular sport.
Minister Fernandez noted that the government of Antigua and Barbuda is a major sponsor of Team Antigua Barbuda who claimed victory in the 69F tournament in Florida.
Two of the three members of the team are national athletes, Junella King and Rocco Falcone. Along with their Italian teammate Fillipo Amonti, the trio are fresh off their remarkable victory at the American Magic Select Sailing series which ran from 10th – 13th November in Pensacola Bay.