On Sunday, November 28th, officials of the Anguilla Tourist Board and the Anguilla Hotel & Tourism Association met with the congregation of the Zion Methodist Church, in North Hill, to observe the traditional opening of Tourism Week with a customary church service.
Among others related with the island’s tourism sector, present were: the Honourable Parliamentary Secretary, with responsibility for tourism, Mrs. Quincia Gumbs-Marie; Chairman of the Anguilla Tourist Board, Mr. Kenroy Hurbert; Anguilla Tourist Board’s Director, Mrs. Stacy Liburd; and the CEO of the Anguilla Hotel and Tourism Association, Mrs. Gilda Samuel. Also represented were the Ministry of Tourism, the Chamber of Commerce and the Anguilla Community College.
It was the Zion Adventures Choir which set the stage in leading the singing. Amidst a host of familiar hymns, songs of worship, and inspiring prayers, the church’s Leader, Rev. Vincia Celestine, extended a cordial welcome to the visiting representatives. She pointed out that, on behalf of the church, she thanked the honoured visitors for choosing to worship at Zion on the day that church began to commemorate the first advent of Christ into the world for the redemption of mankind.
Government and Tourism Officials
ATB’s Executive Assistant, Ms. Brenda Gumbs, and Deputy Director of Tourism, Mrs. Shellya Rogers-Webster, read the 1st and 2nd Scripture readings respectively, from Jeremiah 33:14-16 and 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13.
A brief tourism-related address was delivered by ATB’s Director, Mrs. Liburd, in which she expressed anticipation for a prosperous upcoming tourist season: “It is indeed a pleasure to be in the House of God as we raise the curtain on our annual Tourism Week,” she said. “To the pastorate and congregants of this esteemed House of Worship, we thank you for affording us the privilege of worshiping with you as we ask God’s blessings on the week ahead. Tourism Week in Anguilla comes at a special time of year, when people everywhere count their blessings and embrace the spirit of goodwill. We have so much to be thankful for.
“Our ‘Lose the Crowd, Find Yourself’ message is resonating. The safety protocols are working. New air service is about to begin, and advance bookings are extremely encouraging. Inquiries are increasing substantially, and our accommodation sector is readying itself to emerge from the darkest days of the global pandemic.”
The Director continued: “Travelers are seeking to breathe fresh Anguillian air, and this is a sure sign that Anguilla is beginning to thrive again. So, as Tourism Week begins, we give God thanks for His many blessings that make ours a destination of choice for tens of thousands of discerning visitors…As we continue to chart Anguilla’s post pandemic course together, the Tourism Week theme, ‘Destination Ready Fast Forward for Tourism in Anguilla’, urges us to ask whether our destination is ready, and the answer is a resounding ‘yes’!”
Rev. Vincia Celestine
In her sermon, Rev. Celestine sought to show a parallel between preparation for the advent of the upcoming tourist season and preparation for the second advent of Christ, whom Christians expect to imminently return. She said that both the tourist season and the ultimate return of Christ usher in a time of alertness, a time of waiting and a time of preparation. She emphasised the need for Anguillians to be all on both fronts.“Our theme in this advent has to do with being ready, being prepared, and on our guard for Christ second return”, she noted. “And that falls well in line with the Tourism Week theme: ‘Destination Ready’. So, Anguilla, are you ready?” she asked. “Be ready! Are you ready for the tourists to come? This is a time of great anticipation.”
She alluded to the Gospel of Luke Chapter 21, in which Christ said: “…Look at the fig tree. As soon as it sprouts leaves, you know that Summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the Kingdom of God is near. Truly, I tell you: this generation will not pass away until all things are fulfilled…Be ready. Do not let your hearts be laid down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life…Be alert at all times…”
“As we anticipate the second advent of Jesus, this is a time when we call upon the world to be ready and alert…And as we begin Tourism Week today, you, our tourism representatives, are calling on the nationals, the tour guides, and the hoteliers of this island to be ready — be ready for the tourists are coming. You are sending Anguilla a wake-up call at this time of the year. And just as the church is issuing a wake-up call to the world to be ready for the Lord’s coming, you are saying to the nationals: ‘be ready, because the tourist season is approaching.”The Reverend then led the congregation into the singing of God’s World is Changing, and elaborated on both the Scripture and the Tourism Week theme in light of the need to be ready for the advent of both Christ and this year’s tourist season.
It is obvious that Tourism Week 2021 comes at a rather critical time of our history — in the realm of travel and hospitality — when our world is steeped in the ills of the Covid-19 pandemic. Still, prospects of a bountiful season abound for Anguilla, as bookings for travel to our shores are climbing. Nonetheless, at the end of the service, the Reverend prayed that God would continue to give us favour as the season opens in this “challenging moment”.