Tourism industry officials in Antigua & Barbuda are in a celebratory mood these days, reporting a steady increase in tourism arrivals from the United States and a surge in bookings from the United Kingdom.
Commenting on the bounce back in visitations, Antigua and Barbuda’s Tourism Minister, the Honourable Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez, said: “This is good news for the country’s economy, as our main source markets re-open to international travel and we see our airlift and hotel occupancy levels increase.”
The Tourism Minister continued: “Antigua and Barbuda is open, and we are delighted that consumers can have confidence in traveling to our shores. We have worked steadfastly to ensure the safety of our people and our visitors, and we are pleased and proud that this resulted in a lower number of COVID cases and by extension, reduced the negative impact on our economy.”
And the minister added: “We will continue to do everything we can to maintain a safe environment as the number of arrivals increase and our economy rebounds.”
In June 2021, total arrivals reached 14,503, compared to 22,429 in June 2019. All indications are that the deficit is closing rapidly each month and is now showing a -35% deficit on the Caribbean country’s best year.
Officials point out that the true success story however is with arrivals from the US market. The month of June 2021 saw 12,205 US visitors, representing a 9.8% increase over the total for June 2019 of 11,115.
The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority’s CEO Colin C. James points out that: “The hard work of the tourism teams in the overseas markets to remain engaged and active during and after the pandemic has now begun to bear fruit.”
James also noted that with Antigua and Barbuda now on the UK’s Green Travel List, arrivals will also begin to rise from that source market. Arrivals from the UK market for June 2021, stood at 1,383.
Private jet services to Antigua with 1,219 flights, carrying a noticeable number of first-time visitors have also been recorded between January and June 2021. This represents an increase of 18.6% in private air travel to the country over the same period in 2019.
The growth in tourism arrivals come as welcomed news to hospitality sector workers. With some resorts nearing 100% occupancy and more visitors expected to travel to the country this summer, industry workers are returning to work. The Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association reports that approximately 3,900 hotel staff are back to work and with average occupancy for July now projected at 71% versus an earlier reported 38%, resorts have begun to hire additional staff. Prior to the pandemic, the number of hotel workers stood at approximately 5,600.
Over 36,000 persons resident in Antigua and Barbuda have been vaccinated which is a strong positive safety indicator for consumers as they begin to make decisions on where to vacation.
In the wake of the pandemic, Antigua and Barbuda Tourism officials and stakeholders proactively shared the destination’s ‘sun, sea and safe’ message, that encouraged adherence to COVID-19 protocols and supported the government’s vaccination program.
The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority’s ongoing ‘Your Space In Sun’ marketing campaign, also addresses concerns of potential travelers on social distancing, while assuring industry partners and consumers that Antigua and Barbuda is safe and ready to receive visitors when they are ready to travel.