Chief Executive Officer of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Colin James has said that the UK and the US, two of the country’s major source markets are driving what he calls a robust recovery for the destination.
James said in an interview on the sidelines of the just concluded Caribbean Tourism Organization’s business meetings in Curaçao last week, that while the tourism sector recovered 88 percent of its 2019 business last year, both the United States and the United Kingdom had registered record levels of stayover arrivals in 2022.
“2022 was a very good year for us … but I think that the good news story is that the U.S. market was five percent up on 2019 and the U.K. market four percent up,” he said, with both markets beating their previous records.
He also added that sluggish airlift has slowed down intra-regional travel. “Our hotels are showing record occupancy levels as well as record ADRs (Average Daily Rates) and so that’s been very, very good for the industry,” he added.
He said Antigua and Barbuda has also been boosting its cruise capacity, telling reporters that Antigua’s fifth berth is now capable of hosting the new and larger ships sailing the Caribbean.
“We have a first-class airport facility and now a first-class cruise facility and the ability to homeport means that we can take advantage of a lot of these new ships that are coming out,” he added.
He also mentioned the challenges associated with regional air travel.
“Prior to the pandemic, we had weekly charter service out of Germany and Italy and that’s our main focus for this year. We’ll be at the ITB (Berlin in March), we’ll be at WTM (World Travel Market in November), and we are really working assiduously to get the lift back because as you know, ‘have plane will travel!’ he added.