Browne suggests halal restaurants, hotels to attract rich Saudi tourists

Prime Minister Gaston Browne on an official visit to Dubai in December 2014 (File photo).
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne wants Saudis to visit and invest in his hurricane-battered country.
He is considering bringing halal standards to the islands for the first time in a bid to attract more Arabs visitors.
In an interview with Arab News, he said he had seen increased Middle East interest in real estate and tourism projects in his country which is emerging from the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma.
“We are looking for high net worth individuals. We already have a lot of interest from Saudi Arabia.”
He added: “I want to encourage Saudis to invest in our safe, vibrant country. We are open arms to all cultures and want to please.
“We are open to suggestions and would look to build halal restaurants or hotels if that’s what Muslims want or need.”
Browne rejected claims that the Caribbean islands are being propped up by “passports for sale” initiatives.
He said: “I don’t see it as passports for sale. It’s an incentive for investment – it’s not a new concept. Europe has used it before. This is a competitive market.
“If one country offers citizenship as part of the investment deal – such as the US or Canada – and another country doesn’t, they (investors) won’t invest. It’s just a unique selling point.”
With many countries in the Middle East undergoing political turmoil, citizens of some countries have few visa-free travel options. As former British colonies and members of the Commonwealth, Caribbean island passports grant visa-free access to the UK and the Schengen Area, as well as numerous other countries.
The country’s citizenship by investment program (CIP) has pumped around $500 million into Antigua and Barbuda’s economy since 2014 and has helped pay for social security, cancer treatment and a new hospital, according to Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the US.
On Sept. 6, 2017, when Hurricane Irma swept through Barbuda, Browne saw most of his country’s buildings reduced to — in his own words — “literally a rubble.” At least 60 percent of the island’s residents were left homeless because of the disaster.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Global Citizen Forum, Browne said: “Most of the impact was on Barbuda, so the economic impact on Antigua is minor. However, it’s an economic setback because the country is heavily subsided by Antigua.”
The PM said tourism and real estate are areas that he really wants to push to investors.
“We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and the actual climate itself is about 28 degrees all year round, and it hardly rains. It’s a great country for tourism and vacationing, it’s very peaceful and we enjoy a very stable political climate.”
(Arab News)

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  1. “Europe has used it before.” Which country is called Europe? Europe is a continent, Gaston. And very few of the countries on that continent “has used it before”. Prime Ministers should know how fe talk if a people dem wan fe impress! Yes?

  2. No!!!!! As a frequent long term visitor to your beautiful island, I say NO!! China, UAE, all will pump money in, but at what cost? Massive resort style developments filled with obscenely wealthy rude people who will suck the soul out of the Caribbean.

    • I am still waiting for all the negative nay Sayers to come up with better ideas for developing our capital starved countries. Just remember what Chulkdust pointed out. “All we have is just sea watet and sand.” Those of you who hate tourism and investors, please, please invest your massive wealth to provide jobs for Antiguans and to rebuild Bsrbuda. Talk is cheap.

      • As a tourist, I don’t hate tourism! Or investors. Think of the future. Tourism needs to expand, but, think of what attracts people like me to Antigua. It’s the peace and quiet. Not over run with nightclubs or glitzy resorts. If I wanted that, I would go to Jamaica. Just promote and expand what you have now. You have a Minister of Tourism. Get him to work on what you have.

  3. The agricultural sector, food processing and manufacturing and assembly are a few areas that need investment. Investment in the human resources and education of the people of Antigua & Barbuda can reduce the dependency on foreign investment. “Sun, sea, wind and waves” to me translates to a strong, vibrant and profitable Renewable Energy sector that exports technology, products and services.

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