By Alexander Britell
Antigua and Barbuda is surging.
The twin-island destination in the Eastern Caribbean has been firing on all cylinders, from a wave of large-scale resort development deals to a brand-new airport that has already become one of the Caribbean’s best.
And the country is showing extremely strong growth in arrivals this year, with visitor arrivals for the year at 84,566, an overall increase of 13.5 percent over the same period in 2015.
“The renewed focus and direction of the government’s tourism marketing and airlift polices are now reaping huge dividends,” said Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Minister Asot Michael. “I would like to congratulate my entire team within the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority and Ministry of Tourism whose hard work and dedication has been pivotal in achieving the success that we are now seeing.”
The numbers were boosted by last November’s launch of JetBlue flights to Antigua from New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport, service which is now beginning to have a significant impact.
But the country’s development boom might be the bigger story.
For two years, the country has placed a focus on attracting high-end investors, from Hollywood legend Robert De Niro, who is planning a hotel on Barbuda, to the Yida group, a Chinese outfit which is planning a multi-billlion-dollar resort.
Most recent on the development slate was the major planned redevelopment of the legendary Half Moon Bay by Replay Resorts.
Replay Resorts is planning a branded beachfront hotel, oceanfront villas, ocean-view cottages and a retail village, among other features.
It’s all part of what has become the Caribbean’s next big tourism hotspot.