From left: 2023 AHTA board members Wilbert Fleming, Patricia Bygrave, Deanna Cabrera, Jade Reymond Richardson, Warren Buddle, Sharon Richardson, and Sandra Richardson/Sanphers.
ANGUILLA--Hospitality industry members convened at the Aurora Resort and Golf Club Ballroom on Friday evening, December 2, to attend the Anguilla Hotel and Tourism Association (AHTA) 2022 Annual General Meeting (AGM) to discuss the island’s hospitality top issues and elect new members to the board.
Sharon Richardson, AHTA secretary noted that this was the first in-person AGM since 2019. She said, “In spite of the challenges that we have experienced over the past few years, we have persevered, and are pressing on towards greater achievements in the future.” She welcomed all in attendance and introduced Janine Edwards, the 2022 AHTA chairperson, well-known tourism stakeholder and spokesperson, to give remarks on the state of tourism in Anguilla.
Edwards said, “We are at a pivotal place where hotel and tourism associations across the region are struggling financially. Even our own AHTA has to partner, get creative and have the drive to be able to sustain ourselves and remain relevant. The mission of HTA is to canvas, funnel expertise and give an opportunity to our members, our industry and our nation to remain solid. The underlying role of the HTA is still real and relevant after all these decades. Imagining an Anguilla without a HTA is a scary thought.” She encouraged everyone to mobilise their time, talents and resources to help the HTA survive the current unpredictable times in the industry.
President of the AHTA Kevin Carty noted that over the past three years, both globally and in Anguilla, the hospitality sector has experienced tough times, but also noted that the AHTA was key to keeping the industry alive. Although technology has changed the communications landscape, he stressed that information sharing and communication are still key to success. Another key pillar for success is the development of the great people in the industry. He said, “While we do have great people, we need to invest in the development of their expertise to take this sector forward otherwise we run the risk of this beautiful industry being viewed than less than favourable for travel choice. We have to invest in our young people, they have to see a reason to come into the industry and carry this sector forward.” He noted the training opportunities that can be facilitated through the Anguilla Community College and the University of the West Indies Anguilla Campus.
The evening’s keynote speaker, Minister of Tourism Haydn Hughes said, “The goal of the AHTA is to educate, disseminate and in some instances, agitate. It is therefore important to recognise that while there is a need for a strong AHTA, the ease of access to political leadership in Anguilla is prohibited. Perhaps the time has come for the government of Anguilla to work with the AHTA to amend legislation. Innovation and adoption must occur if we are to have a successful and meaningful AHTA which is too important to fail.”
Following the remarks, elections for new members to the 2023 board were held. Positions will be assigned to new members at the first 2023 meeting.