By RON FANFAIR
The twin-island state of Antigua & Barbuda has a beach for every day of the year – 365 – and 140 species of birds. It now has a mountain for the first African-American president of the United States.
The highest point on the island, formerly known as Boggy Peak, has been renamed Mount Obama, to honour the election of President Barack Obama.
Mount Obama is a popular hiking spot lying 1300 feet above sea level. It houses a modern communication system – which keeps the nation in touch worldwide – and will officially be inaugurated during the island’s 52nd carnival celebration on Emancipation Day, August 1.
The name change was initially announced after Obama became America’s first Black president last November.
“Antigua & Barbuda was the first country in the world to name a significant landmark after him,” said Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority’s (ABTA) chief executive officer, Colin James, who was in Toronto last week meeting with travel partners and promoting the twin islands as a destination of choice for Canadian residents.
“The decision was made on what he has achieved as someone of African descent to be elevated to the highest office in the (most powerful) country in the free world. We thought it fitting that we honour the historic moment. We intend to promote the landmark to individuals interested in history.”
The ABTA was launched last February as the central body for promoting the islands and coordinating the efforts of their overseas offices.
“Launching this organization was an excellent move because it’s something that has always been pushed and promoted by the private sector, to actually have an authority separate from the Ministry of Tourism, whose primary focus is to market and promote our twin islands,” he said.
James also said that the ABTA is responsible, as well, for increasing airlift from the source markets, including Canada, and they are currently negotiating with several Canadian carriers.
“Canada has tremendous potential,” he said. “It’s a vast country and we have had growth of about 11 per cent in the last year. We are not just looking to the visitor market but our own ethnic market as well. With the challenges we face in the downturn of the economy, the challenge for us is to hold steady and not lose market share.”
Before joining the ABTA, James was general manager of PDV Caribe Antigua & Barbuda Ltd. and chief executive for Cable & Wireless in St. Lucia, Dominica and St. Kitts-Nevis.
Neil Forrester, general manager of the Antigua Hotels & Tourist Association, accompanied James to Toronto.