Key Investment Opportunities
Building on our strengths such as natural beauty, mild weather, economic and political stability, a central Caribbean location, friendliness and a well-educated workforce, the Government of Antigua & Barbuda has identified Tourism and Financial Services as priority investment sectors. These are be complemented by Business Support Services, Education and Logistics.
Business Support Services
The highlighted segments reinforce each other in a synergistic manner. For instance, enhanced investments in segment-specialized education benefit the development of investments in tourism, health and wellness, business support and financial services. Additional investment in the health sector in the country would also entice more retirees to settle and/or have a second home in Antigua and Barbuda, fostering the development of more residential condominiums and time-share resorts. ICT training directly opens the possibility for technical support centers and perhaps software development based in Antigua.
Prioritized Investment Opportunities
Antigua & Barbuda has a land area of 442 km2 (Antigua 280 km2 and Barbuda 162 km2), a coastline of 153 km. and the largest EEZ for fishing in the Eastern Caribbean with 103,000 km2. Some 30% of land is arable, with 18% in use. Within the Agriculture and Agribusiness sector the country has seen success in recent years and the sector has good potential to develop further:
Pineapples – The ‘Antigua Black Pineapple’ which grows in dark, loamy soil is renowned for its sweetness. It is now recognized as an international brand and is sold in Norwegian supermarkets at a premium price.
Poultry – Antigua & Barbuda is a net importer of poultry and there are plans to develop the sector to make Antigua & Barbuda a net exporter of poultry products.
Sea–Island Cotton – The production of sea-island cotton is being perfected in Antigua & Barbuda. It commands high export prices and is revered among Japanese connoisseurs for its quality. With financial support from the Government and the Antigua & Barbuda Development Bank, 30 acres are currently in the 3rd year of cultivation. Participating farmers sell their crop to a co-op for further processing into lint and yarn. Yield and harvesting technology is being improved and weavers are now in training on modern jacquard looms with finished goods being sold to retail outlets in the Caribbean and further afield.
The ‘National Backyard Gardening Programme’ is an initiative aimed at getting the population to produce 4m pounds of food annually in peoples’ own backyards. This program with 2,500 families has seen a rise in the production of tomato, sweet pepper, okra, lettuce and herbs such as rosemary and thyme.
The country’s agricultural production is focused mainly on the domestic market. With a large area of underutilized land, a Government priority is to encourage self-sufficiency in order to curtail the need to import food which accounts for about one quarter of all imports.
The main business opportunities arise from possibilities to replace some of these food imports and to export to other Caribbean countries which have a combined food import bill of some $5 billion. Whilst it is not viable to replace all of the processed food imports there is significant potential to replace fresh food imports.
Antigua & Barbuda has an excellent and well-deserved reputation in tourism. The industry dominates the national economy and is the most important source of foreign exchange and foreign direct investment in the country. The Government is committed to the development of the industry by supporting the diversification of the tourism product, increased marketing support through the Tourism Authority and supporting investment in infrastructure.
Antigua & Barbuda is aiming to build on its traditional strengths with, for example, an immediate investment opportunity for a new five star, ‘non-resort’, luxury business hotel. In addition, new opportunities are opening up for increased investment in more diversified activities related to tourism such as:
health and wellness tourism
eco-tourism and nature tourism
cultural and heritage tourism
Today’s increasingly discerning tourists are looking for innovative and new tourism product offerings. Antigua & Barbuda provides good opportunities for investors to capitalize on the country’s tradtional strenghts in tourism to invest in new businesses which can cater to this demand. Under the country’s Tourism Development Strategy a wide variety of specific business opportunties have been identified across the islands. Full details of all of these investment opportunities are available from ABIA. A sampling of some of these business opportunities are shown here:
Located on a headland on the entrance to St Johh’s Harbor, the Fort site is easily accessible from downtown St Johns and the Cruise ship berths. The project site is approximately 67 acres (27 hectares) and provides access to a fine white sand beach.
The Fort was built in 1706 by the British to guard the harbor from French invasion. Significant structures remain, including the powder magazine, several old cannons, the Fort’s foundation wall and an old jetty. The site provides an excellent view of the harbor and the fine public beach.
The business opportunity arises from the fact that the site is ideally suited for development of a Day Time Resort to serve the local population, cruise passengers and both business and tourist hotel guests. It also offers good potential for residential units on site as well as for a new marina.
St John’s Harbor
A privately-owned (Ryan Property) waterfront site of 2 acres (0.8 hectares) located adjacent to the Cruise ship terminal offers good potential for a branded business hotel with conference facilities as part of the redevelopment strategy for the urban core and cruiseship port. It has the potential to become a solid south anchor to the waterfront walk, as well as a needed new lodging facility in the downtown area. The site is flat and offers open views onto St Johns Harbor and easy pedestrian connectivity to the historic and retail core of St John
An area of 91 acres (37 hectares) of land and 37 acres (15 hectares) of water exists at Deep Bay only ten minutes by car from St Johns. The area is an ideal day trip destination for locals or visitors who want to spend a day relaxing on the beach. The site has a magnificent natural configuration, with a beautiful arched beach protected by a steep peninsula, a natural lagoon, and a backdrop of steep slopes offering sweeping views over the ocean. The site is rich in history, with the 1779 Fort Barrington towering on the peninsula, and a 100-year old shipwreck in the middle of the bay.
Deep Bay is a backbone project of the country’s Tourism Development Strategy, integrating several key themes.?This aims to combine both government and private properties, to create an integrated development, with Marina facilities, associated mixed-use marina village, and the Fort restoration connected to a local Park & Day Beach. A further business opportunity exists to complement these amenities with a new branded 5-star Hotel, with branded and non branded villas located along the beach, lagoon and hillside.
Mount Obama National Park
Located amid a bulge of hills in the less developed southwest coast area of Antigua, Mt Obama National Park covers 2,500 acres (1,000 hectares). It was created to protect large-scale ecological processes, species and ecosystems and to provide a foundation for compatible educational, recreational and visitor opportunities. It includes the last remaining wet and dry forest in Antigua, significant biodiversity in plants and birds, outstanding scenery, and genetic material of the Black Pineapple, grown at Christian Valley and Cades Bay. Historically, the ridges were used as a sanctuary for slaves in their struggle for freedom. The valleys have a rich agricultural and medicinal herb heritage.
A good business opportunity exists for investment in a boutique hotel to accommodate visitors to the Park. Mt Obama is envisioned as the premier Ecotourism destination on the island, and key to diversify Antigua’s identity. The goal is to develop both, day-park facilities and a boutique hotel for longer overnight stays. The north side of the mountain is best suited for lodging as it offers access to Cades Bay beach.
Galleon Beach is a privately-owned 25 acres (10 hectares) site located on the south coast of Antigua at the entrance of English Harbor, Antigua’s premier yachting center and most established luxury destination. The English & Falmouth Harbor area is a complete and exclusive community featuring historic Nelson Dockyard, Antigua’s Yacht Club, Temo Sports and Spring Hill Riding Stables. The surrounding area is a beautiful blend of white sandy beaches, rolling hills, tropical vegetation, nautical atmosphere, and historical sites.
Galleon Beach is a magnificent property shaped as a natural amphitheater, with spectacular views over Freeman’s Bay and the anchored yachts, from any point on site. It has a half-mile direct frontage to the fine beach and a vegetated high promontory on its south end. Galleon Beach is considered a key site within the Tourism Strategy to further develop the best of Antigua’s high- end tourism, and to provide much needed lodging in English Harbor. The business opportunity is for the development of a high-end boutique hotel with a residential component to form a ‘one-of-a-kind’ high-end resort.
Islands Paradise Resorts
Located on the northeast coast of Antigua, Island Paradise Resorts consists of three islands -Guiana, Crump and Rabbit – plus undeveloped land in the Crump Peninsula. The total area is 1,517 acres (614 hectares). The islands are located within the North Sound Marine Park, an area rich in natural resources, marine land bird life, frequented by nature lovers for kayaking, reef snorkeling, and bird watching. The islands’ terrain combines sandy beaches, gentle slopes, upland, and cliffs with commanding views.
The Tourism Development Strategy seeks to position the islands as a sustainable development destination that will serve to protect, enhance and manage the rich natural resources in the area. The business opportunity is for a low density golf and yachting community, with luxury boutique hotel, villas and estates, planned with sustainable development criteria.
Antigua and Barbuda –“A Center of Technological Excellence, Quality English Speaking Talent, Competitive Costs and a Compelling Lifestyle.”
Antigua & Barbuda places a high priority on ICT as an important enabler for national development. As a consequence, the country has experienced rapid growth in its ICT sector, driven by major public and private sector investment. Antigua & Barbuda now has a modern telecommunications infrastructure. This has facilitated fast growth in broadband internet and data and voice services that are so vital for modern information-intensive businesses.
Antigua & Barbuda has demonstrated immense commitment to making the country the most well connected island in telecommunications in the Eastern Caribbean and has articulated a policy of transforming Antigua & Barbuda into a knowledge-based society. Information Technology-enabled Services/Business Process Outsourcing (ITeS/BPO) operations are consistent with the aim of increasing employment and revenue flows attributable to the ICT sector, a main objective of the ICT Policy.
Antigua & Barbuda is well on its way to becoming a digital economy with high levels of internet and telephone connectivity. The country has two underwater fibre optic cables with landing points for the East Caribbean Fibre System (ECFS) and the Global Caribbean Network (GCN) submarine cable systems. The GCN has links to other islands in the eastern Caribbean extending from the British Virgin Islands to Trinidad and goes onward to the Global Crossings Network, thereby providing connection to other continents. The country is also equipped with satellite earth stations.
“Antigua provides ideal support for information technology services and internet-driven business opportunities that demand more sophisticated financial services”. Brian Stuart-Young, CEO of Global Bank of Commerce
Geographically, Antigua & Barbuda, with its close proximity to the United States, is a natural near-shore location for the massive US market – the fastest growth segment of the global ITeS/BPO outsourcing industry. In recent times there has been an increasing trend from off-shoring to near-shoring, especially for voice related outsourcing.An important driver for the near-shore shift in the ITeS/BPO sector is to improve the quality of customer service – typically with the use of native speakers. Antigua & Barbuda, with its English Language capability and neutral accent meets this fundamental criterion.
In addition to its geographic proximity to the US and its language capability, Antigua & Barbuda can also offer investors in this sector a number of further benefits:
Cultural affinity to the USA and the UK which together account for 80% of the English-speaking outsourcing market
Good air connectivity with the USA and UK
Time zone similarity to the USA, the largest user of outsourcing services worldwide estimated at 70% of market demand
High literacy rate of 98 % (UNDP 2013)
The country’s post secondary educational institutions offer a range of courses in technology, business and customer service related disciplines
A network of colleges, as well as accreditation and certification bodies, ensures that skills quality meets world standards
Strategically situated in the eastern Caribbean, within sight of several neighbouring islands who are also members of OECS with easy access to a combined labour pool of over 600,000 people
6th in the category of ‘Caribbean and Central American Country of the future’ in the 2011/12 survey of FDI attractiveness of LAC countries by the Financial Times, 2nd for ‘Best Infrastructure’ and 8th for ‘Best Human Resources’.
8th of 32 countries in the LAC region, in the 2014 World Bank Doing Business Report with rankings of 3rd and 5th respectively for enforcing contracts and protecting investors
Welcoming, strong customer-service culture resulting from the country’s long history as a premium tourism destination
Good availability of ‘ready-to-occupy’ office space suitable for the ITeS/BPO sector
Good quality of life
Given the nature and experience of Antigua & Barbuda’s workforce, the areas within Business Process Outsourcing that the country can best support new investment are considered to be:
Contact Centre Services in Credit and Debit Card Services
Insurance Claim Processing
Back Office Shared Services such as Finance and Accounting Services
Technical Customer Support
Financial Sector Compliance Services
Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) in the areas of Finance and Accounting, Asset Management and Payroll Processing.
The presence of the Antigua and Barbuda International Institute of Technology (ABIIT), and the cadre of trained and certified technicians being produced, represents a strength on which to build. Prior to regulatory and legal challenges, the number of sports-book and gaming operators in Antigua and Barbuda was testament to the quality of people and telecommunications infrastructure, which supported these operations. In fact, several thousand well-trained employees and a marked increase in commercial space were by-products. This combination allows for a resurgence of the internet gaming sector and for immediate upgrade to business process outsourcing.
Additionally, being situated in the “heart of the Caribbean”, the twin- island nation can further exploit its potential in logistics, business support and financial services. To complement and support these operations, the presence of several international banking institutions, in addition to global correspondent banking relationships, can facilitate operations in these sectors.