For six decades, or since 1952 when the Hotels Aid Law was adopted by the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda, the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ALP) has nurtured and grown the hotel and tourism sector, achieving tremendous successes. As an alternative to the poverty and deprivation of the sugar industry, Antiguans and Barbudans have prospered by a very careful and deliberate policy constructed by the ALP to grow the hotel and tourism sector.
At every step in that growth process, during the past 60 years, the ALP ensured that all workers had the opportunity to participate and to gain meaningfully from that sector. Taxi drivers and vendors who sell all manner of souvenirs, arts and crafts to the visiting tourists are among the two groups who have benefitted the most from the hotel and tourism sector.
The ALP stands opposed to the plan by the seven-year old United Progressive Party (UPP) government, led by Mr. Baldwin Spencer, to kick vendors and locals off Long Bay beach. The ALP has learned that the UPP regime plans to sell the acre of land at Long Bay, preserved for the use of locals at Long Bay Beach, kicking the vendors off the beach in the process. The ALP is aware that the Long Bay Pineapple Beach Hotel, recently re-named, has 26 acres of prime beach-front property. The piece of land, preserved for local use by the ALP nearly sixty years ago, need not become a part of the expanded hotel development.
At Long Bay, at Half Moon Bay and six other beaches frequented by nationals, the ALP devised a sensible plan, nearly sixty years ago, to leave untouched considerable access to the beaches; the piece of land left vacant, in the middle of each beach, then permitted easy access to those persons who want to sell on the beach to tourists, or those who merely want to swim on the beach especially on holidays or whenever they chose.
Hotel development need not take place at the expense of access by locals, or the ability to sell souvenirs on the beach.
The ALP stands opposed to selling-off the land that allows easy access and for the selling of souvenirs by vendors. The policy devised and passed into law under the Antigua and Barbuda Physical Planning Act Part VI Section 50(1) which reads: There shall be at least one public landward access to every beach in Antigua and Barbuda; and Section 50(5) which reads: Where a proposed development is likely to adversely affect the public’s ability to access a beach from the landward side, any development permit shall require as a condition a landward public access…remain the law.
These conditions were enshrined in law by the ALP and teeth given to the Development Control Authority to ensure that the law is obeyed. The ALP is certain that the UPP need not, and the law dictates that it cannot, alienate the land set-aside for public access by vendors and locals. The ALP calls on the UPP to obey the law and the custom, and to exclude from inclusion the acreage set aside for the use of Antiguans and Barbudans at Long Bay beach.