03 January, 2009


Anguilla Tourist Board. It is generally agreed that tourism is the number one industry in Anguilla. I have my doubts. In my opinion, construction is really the number one industry in Anguilla. Anyway, tourism is officially the number one industry in Anguilla. If it is, it should be awarded the highest degree of care and supervision by the relevant authorities. These authorities are the Anguilla Tourist Board and the Anguilla Hotel and Tourism Association. The first is the government statutory board charged with marketing the destination and setting and ensuring standards. The second is a non-governmental organization, the trade association of the industry, so to say. What about their own standards?

Over the years I have had many friends and family visit. I used to be amazed, ten years ago, at their arriving with a thick dossier of information about Anguilla garnered from the internet. Persons arriving for the first time on the island sometimes had more information about what was going on, what was available, than the average resident knew about. They got it all from websites on the internet. The phenomenon is even more widespread now. Websites give all the important information. No one reads paper anymore. So, we have to expect that the websites for our two premier marketing and regulatory organizations are being maintained to a high standard. At the very least, they will not be giving downright false and misleading information. Is that too much to expect?

So, when the 14 December 2008 issue of the New York Daily News carried an article by Jared McCalister on wedding packages in Anguilla, my interest was piqued. Anguilla has long been a marriage haven. I like to think I played my part in developing that industry in the late 1970s when, as a marriage officer, I lobbied successfully to have the period of residence for visitors to get married reduced from two weeks to one day. [My argument was that such a requirement was immoral. It forced young couples coming to Anguilla, intending to get married, to have the two-week honeymoon first so that they could earn the qualification period to get married on the last day of their honeymoon!] The Daily News article read:

Wedded bliss for less
With a little help, love does conquer all - including an economic recession, says the Anguilla Tourist Board, which is kicking off a special “Wedding OFF the Rocks” package next month.

Brides, grooms, friends and families are invited to take part in the travel special, which offers couples the wedding ceremony and the wedding night free at one of the island’s affordable Charming Escapes Collection properties.

The special elopement packages are available from January 5 through March 31, 2009. Guests must book a minimum of four nights to qualify for the “Wedding OFF the Rocks” package, which also includes discounts for family and friends, a civil ceremony, champagne and wedding cake.

For information on the “Wedding OFF the Rocks” Packages, call the Anguilla Tourist Board at 877-4-ANGUILLA, or visit www.anguilla-vacation.com.

There is only one problem with this story. I challenge you to find any mention of this package on the indicated Anguilla Tourist Board website.

And, if you agree with me that this is very poor marketing by the ATB, visit the AHTA website. There you will come across such gems as:

· Bid on rooms on their auction site (nothing listed for the past year +)

· Make a reservation at Rendezvous Bay Hotel (closed for over a year)

· Under Restaurants, eat at Flavours or Straw Hat at The Forest (the first long closed and the second long removed to Frangipani at Meads Bay)

· Under Tourism, play golf at Temenos, Swim with the Dolphins, visit Irie Life at Sandy Ground, or take a day trip on Sea Grape charters (none of which exist any longer).

If you check the banner ads at the top, you’ll find one for Rendezvous Bay Hotel, and another for live weather at Altamer Resort site (down for the last 6 months). There are plenty more misleading bits of misinformation, but I give up.

“Is everything in Anguilla destined for mediocrity or failure?” David Carty, ca 1989.


  1. “If this is the only industry that will keep us going and make our lives a lot better for our children and grandchildren, we have to take it seriously and push it forward.”
    --John Benjamin, Chairman, Anguilla Tourist Board, 30 April 2003

  2. Don
    I am a outsider who likes your blog and visits anguilla lots I looked at the url you mentioned in your blog. www.anguilla-vacation.com Under honeymoons then places to stay it may be a bit oudated 2007 packages but far from what you said.Could this be just a slip up of not updating the website and nothing more??

  3. I think the question is - why hasn't the website been updated?

    This site should be the first place to look for current information about traveling to and staying on Anguilla. It is the Anguilla Tourist Board website. Instead, people have to get their current information from various commercial travel websites and forums.

  4. Eight years of Budget Speeches are on the official government website:
    but they're two years behind.

    Updating websites is one of those "foreigner concepts" that we don't do here. The Dept. of Information and Broadcasting features year-old local news on their website:

    In the featured story, the Chief Minister says that problems have arisen in our society for which "there is a need for serious divine intervention." I don't really understand this. Does Jesus do websites?

  5. Dear Mr Mitchell, thanks for pointing out the errors on the AHTA website. Please be assured we will make best efforts to ammend mistakes and update more regularly.
    I agree with your sentiments - our website should reflect what is current here - but we are a small organisation and sometimes things take longer than they should. We appreciate the input and will act on it.

    Trudy Nixon, Executive Director, AHTA.

  6. Kudos to Trudy Nixon for responding. That is the good "first step in the right direction." I mean this most sincerely. Too many times the attitude one gets indicates that person(s) in charge don't really care.

  7. I don't think that kudos are in order here. Ms. Nixon had no choice other than to respond. The fact that the site is so poorly looked after is actually proof that those in charge don't care. Perhaps the AHTA site should be taken off line and the Anguilla Guide site should become "The" place for updated information.

  8. I should mention that today Ms Amelia Vanterpool-Kubish of the Tourist Board telephoned me and advised that the webpage on weddings is in fact on the website. It is difficult to find as it is hidden among the press releases and with a different headline. She is going to put it on the front page.


  9. Did the Director of Tourism happen to mention how many angry calls they have gotten from irate visitors who had falsely been encouraged to haul their golf clubs all the way to Anguilla?

    Did she happen to mention why they are continuing to mislead our hapless visitors in this manner?

    She has worked in that office for what -- 25 years? She's got a large staff and millions of dollars a year to do her job. When can we expect that she will start doing it right?

  10. Half the employees of AHTA and ATB have one foot out the door looking for other jobs so it's not surprising the offices are not well run. They use their position to forward their own agenda.

  11. As in any organisation, there is room for improvement within the AHTA. The website is a source of frustration for all of us. However given the constraints of a small budget and the rapidly changing landscape of the Anguilla's tourism product they do the best they can. The AHTA has over 170 members, each a valuable part of Anguilla's community. We encourage our members to be active not only in their own business arena but to also support community programs. Active involvement in the AHTA will benefit everyone as we are all dependant on tourism. Anyone who would like to volunteer their time and energy to supporting the growth and improvement of this valuable organisation would be very warmly welcomed.


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