Despite the projection, tourism stakeholders are preparing for the peak season, with the hope that the prospects will improve. According to the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, from January to August 2020, tourism stay-over 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 the month of August, the destination received 4761 visitors, with 67% of these visitors travelling from the United States, followed by 21% from the United Kingdom, 7% from the Caribbean and 3% from Canada.
Minister of Tourism, Charles Fernandez noted that: “The Ministry of Tourism and the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority continue 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.
American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, British Airways, Caribbean Airlines, interCaribbean Airlines and Winair are operating flights into Antigua, and in the upcoming months, Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada, and Sunwing are expected to return.
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.