Antigua and Barbuda, one of the most beautiful countries in the Caribbean Islands, is well-known for its majestic oceans and bustling beaches. However, the global pandemic has been unforgiving, especially to the tourism industry and this beautiful archipelagic island was not spared.

Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador H.E Dr. Dario Item (left) during the presentation of credentials to H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco (right) Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador H.E Dr. Dario Item (left) during the presentation of credentials to H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco (right) Photo: embassy.ag

Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador H.E Dr. Dario Item ( left ) during the presentation of credentials to H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco ( right )

Dr. Dario Item works as the ambassador for Antigua and Barbuda for Spain. He is also the official diplomat of the country in the principalities of Monaco and Liechtenstein. It is his function to explain his country's policies to the government of these aforementioned countries. This goes along with the opportunity to welcome and look out for the well-being of travelers in the country. 

Currently, the task of reviving a stunted tourism industry by introducing the country as a destination falls upon Item’s shoulders. Along with other diplomats based in the European region, Dr. Item has made efforts to assure that Antigua and Barbuda is ready to accommodate tourists with its renowned hospitality as well as create channels to deliver additional equipment for basic service providers.

With this recognition, European diplomats of Antigua and Barbuda have formed a Caucus that focuses on helping the basic sectors of its countries by funneling foreign aid to the frontline service providers. This committee includes diplomats from Spain (Dario Item), United Kingdom (Karen-Mae Hill), Greece (Jihad Georges Aoun), Germany (Wolfgang Altmueller), Bulgaria (Dr. Ivan Todorov), and Russia (Julian Hansen). 

Gaining ground

The Caucus has proven itself lately. In a simple handover ceremony, their donation of 50 kits comprising antibacterial soap, vitamin C, multivitamin syrup, deodorants, energy bars, and hand sanitizers was distributed to the frontline service providers of Mount St e John's Medical Centre. This event was graced by E.P. Chet Greene, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He handed the donation to the hospital. In turn, it was received by Jacqueline Jno Baptiste, the Director of Nursing at the MSJMC.

The latter was very appreciative of the effort of the Caucus. The medical staff could not stress it more how much these items are needed in their effort to keep the nation healthy. To revive local industries, all donated items were sourced from local suppliers. The Antigua Distillery Ltd and Frank B Armstrong Distributors worked hand in hand with the group of diplomats to make the activity successful.

This was immediately followed by a generous donation to the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda (RPFAB). Through the effort of Dario Item and his group, a contribution worth EC$200,000 comprising computers and its accessories as well as hygiene and wellness kits were given to the RPFAB and a young individual with special needs.

The endowment for the RPFAB consisted of 20 Hewlett Packard desktop computers, 20 uninterruptible power supply units, two heavy-duty printers, and around 1,000 hygiene and wellness kits.

Again, these items were borne from local suppliers to spark a resurgence in the local economy. For this activity, the committee added Antigua Computer Technology Company Ltd (ACT) and Anjo Wholesale to its list of partners, aside from Frank B Armstrong Distributors and Antigua Distillery Ltd.

This donation aims to support the police force, one of the most burdened public service providers, in achieving their objective. The RPFAB is geared towards shifting its database and record system to an electronic style database. No less than Minister Greene recognizes the difficulty that the police experience in preserving law and order while fighting an invisible enemy, COVID-19. Greene declared that the donation is also a symbol of commendation and recognition to the courageous frontline service people.

The tourism industry of Antigua and Barbuda

The GDP of Antigua and Barbuda, like most of the world, is expected to plunge for 2020. This is mostly due to its reliance on the tourism sector which has come to a screeching halt since the spread of the COVID-19 disease. After experiencing GDP growth annually since 2014, Antigua and Barbuda is expected to lose out this year.

Princess Diana Beach Antigua and Barbuda Previously known as Coco Point Beach, this beach was later renamed Princess Diana Beach, in honor of the late Princess of Wales loved vacationing in the island Photo: embassy.ag

Previously known as Coco Point Beach, this beach was later renamed Princess Diana Beach, in honor of the late Princess of Wales loved vacationing in the island

Ambassador Dr. Dario Item is known for his organised approach in project implementation and he sees that the tourism industry relies on the strength of the basic services provided by the government. Antigua and Barbuda must project a picture of strength in their country to attract tourists and investors. 

Continuous efforts

Minister Greene is often bombarded by queries regarding the readiness of Antigua and Barbuda to cater guests. He discussed the comprehensive security protocols and social distancing measures that the government has already implemented and will continue to implement in key establishments. 

These include  airports, hotels, resorts and restaurants. “Welcoming everyone with a smile, even behind a mask” is how he describes the procedures that have been laid out for tourism diplomats. Despite stringent measures to ensure security, the warmth of Antigua and Barbuda’s people will still be felt.

The minister remains positive that the beautiful Carribean Island will win the battle against the pandemic. He sincerely appreciates the effort Dario Item and his colleagues have been making in helping the country. He is thankful for his league of diplomats in the European region, and encourages them to keep their effort strong in providing immediate necessities and continuously introducing Antigua and Barbuda as a tourist destination among European countries.

Karen-Mae Hill has also highlighted Caucus’ reliable partners. It includes the Halo Foundation for the Needy, Sunshine Home for Girls, Ex-Servicemen Association, the St. Vincent de Paul, and the Grace Programme, for being gracious and supportive partners of the committee.

Long way to go

Dr. Dario Item also continues to introduce Antigua and Barbuda in his covered countries. He also relentlessly partners with organizations and individuals who are willing and in the position to help the Caribbean State to get back on its feet. The enchanting tourist destination has bravely opened its gates to tourists in June with a well-organized security scheme both for its locals and visitors. 

This establishes the continuous need for various equipment and supplies for the different service providers to best combat COVID-19 and continue serving tourists who have been wanting to go back to the Caribbean paradise. The Antigua and Barbuda Embassy has more information about the ongoing efforts.