By Alexander Britell
After a resilient 2017, Antigua and Barbuda is at it again, with tourism numbers that continue to climb.
The destination is reporting significant growth so far in 2018, with a more than 7 percent increase compared to the first half of 2017.
Antigua reported 148,139 visitors in the first six months of 2018, with large increases in key source markets including the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
“We are excited by this positive momentum in growth of arrivals, both by cruise and air,” said Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Tourism and Investment, Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez. “It is incredibly encouraging for the tourism industry, and I would like to congratulate the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, the private sector, stakeholders and all our tourism partners on helping us reach these positive results for the first 6 months of the year. We will not rest on our laurels, and are striving for better. We will continue to invest in infrastructure and service and raise awareness of Antigua and Barbuda, to ensure we see consistent growth in arrivals.”
The United States is showing 14.35 percent growth in arrivals to Antigua, while Canada saw a whopping 170 percent increase in arrivals this year.
The growth comes as Antigua is about to get a major boost with an additional daily nonstop flight out of Miami on American Airlines, along with new direct service out of both New York and Canada.
“The first half of 2018 has shown incredible improvement, especially in our key source markets. We look forward to relentlessly working towards attracting new and returning visitors, improving our on-island tourism products as well as increasing access through our award-winning airport and port,” said Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority CEO Colin C. James. “Combined with our aggressive marketing strategies, we are confident that we will continue to see remarkable growth for the second half of the year.”
It’s all part of what has been rapid development for the destination, which has become one of the Caribbean’s major hubs for hotel investment in the last several years, attracting new projects from brands including Rosewood, Waldorf Astoria, Best Western Premier and Marriott, among others.
The most anticipated just might be that of Elegant Hotels, the Barbados-based company that is spearheading the exciting new Hodges Bay project. The five-star Hodges Bay is planning an October debut (Caribbean Journal got an exclusive look at Hodges Bay last month).
Last year, Antigua and Barbuda welcomed more than 1 million sea and air arrivals combined, a record for the destination.