ST JOHNS, Antigua – As Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Industry stakeholders prepare for peak season, tourism officials are cautiously optimistic that with arrivals steadily increasing each month since the destination’s re-opening, that the moderate upward trend will continue into the traditionally busy tourism period.
For the year to August 2020, tourism stayover arrivals show that the destination received 94,810 visitors. Though arrivals dipped drastically in March due to reduced airlift brought on by the global pandemic, as the V.C Bird International Airport re-opened to international flights in June, monthly visitor arrivals have more than doubled from then until the end of August.
For August, the destination received 4761 visitors. From the main source markets, 67 percent of Antigua and Barbuda’s visitors travelled from the United States, followed by 21 percent from the United Kingdom, 7 percent from the Caribbean and 3 percent from Canada.
Minister of tourism, Charles Fernandez noted that: “The ministry of tourism and the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority continues to carefully monitor the COVID-19 landscape within our main source markets. We remain committed to working with the ministry of health and the entire Antigua and Barbuda tourism sector to ensure that as the destination opens up further, we keep those protective measures in place that have been designed to safeguard our residents and those who visit our shores.”
The tourism minister explained that it would not be business as normal, as with the pandemic ongoing, COVID-19 protocols would still require visitors to travel with their negative PCR test, wear facial masks when social distancing was not possible and adhere to other protocols stipulated by the ministry of health. For tourism businesses, he noted that protocols would also affect operations, and in some instances would mean reduced occupancy levels.
Presently American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, British Airways, Caribbean Airlines, interCaribbean Airlines and Winair are operating flights into the destination. In the next few months, Antigua and Barbuda will welcome, Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada, and Sunwing.
In October, additional hotel re-openings have also been planned. These include Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association member hotels: Blue Waters Resort, Tamarind Hills, Hermitage Bay, Antigua Village, Galley Bay, Carlisle Bay Resort, St James’s Club, The Great House, Antigua Yacht Club Marina, Ocean Point Resort, Curtain Bluff Resort, and Hawksbill.
“Each hotel or accommodation offering that has opened has been inspected by the ministry of tourism and the ministry of health, to ensure that they are adhering to the COVID-19 protocols set for tourism accommodation. Over 200 properties have been inspected to date ranging from small bed & breakfast styled properties, to the larger all-inclusives,” said the tourism minister. The full listing of all tourism properties certified as of September 15 by the ministry of tourism’s Quality Assurance Unit, can be viewed here.
The ministry of tourism also recently released to the Antigua and Barbuda yachting sector, operational guidelines, and protocols for the sector. These protocols are available here.
The tourism minister urged the tourism sector to remain mindful of the COVID-19 protocols in place that all key players should be guided by during the tourism recovery.