ST. JOHN’S, ANTIGUA — Antigua and Barbuda’s traditional low season is seeing a surge of tourists this summer, with stayover arrivals surpassing pre-Covid levels for the month of July.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, stayover tourism arrivals in July reached 23,405 tourists, surpassing the 23,031 arrivals for the same month in 2019, which was a record-breaking year for the destination.
Minister of Tourism Charles Fernandez said that there’s been a “visible change” in travel behaviour, resulting in a steady increase in arrivals for the summer.
“July has been an extremely strong month, with demand for the destination from the U.S. market as well as the U.K. market booming, with growth above 2019 figures,” he said. “We are also beginning to see an uptake from our Caribbean and Canadian market.”
From its main source markets, 15,350 of tourists travelled by air from the United States in July, compared to 10,221 in July 2019. This is followed by the U.K., with 6,521 in July 2021 compared to 5,378 in July 2019. With airlift still not up to pre-Covid levels, Antigua and Barbuda welcomed 839 tourists from the Caribbean and 107 from Canada last month.
Said Colin C. James, CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority: “We are indeed buoyed by this continued upward trajectory in the air arrival numbers, which is a clear indication that the recovery is well underway. This is particularly encouraging in that this July, which is the best July ever for air arrivals, was accomplished in a year when Antigua’s Carnival was again cancelled due to the pandemic, as compared to 2019 when we had Carnival. This good news only serves to redouble our efforts for the remainder of the year.”
With air arrivals up, hoteliers across the country have been busy. Vernon A. Jeffers, Senior Executive Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association, reports that July saw a return to “very high occupancies,” particularly across its mid-range sized hotels, which performed at 80% and higher.
“We certainly hope that these occupancy levels are sustained over the next few months as travellers continue to make last-minute decisions to travel to the destination,” said Jeffers.
The good news continues, with tour operators, taxis and restaurateurs seeing an uptake in business for the month of July, with some calling it “the best July in years, even before Covid.”