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JOHN’S, ANTIGUA — With tourism arrivals steadily increasing each month, the two-island destination of Antigua and Barbuda is cautiously optimistic that the upward trend will continue into the traditionally busy winter season.
The destination, which was among the first in the Caribbean to resume commercial flights on June 4, received a total of 94,810 visitors for the year to August 2020. These arrivals dipped drastically in March due to reduced airlift brought on by the global pandemic. But since the reopening of V.C Bird International Airport in June, monthly visitor arrivals have more than doubled from then until the end of August.
For the month of August, the destination received 4,761 visitors, with 67% travelling from the United States followed by 21% from the United Kingdom, 7% from the Caribbean and 3% from Canada.
“The Ministry of Tourism and the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority continue to carefully monitor the Covid-19 landscape within our main source markets,” said Minister of Tourism Charles Fernandez. “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.”
Fernandez was quick to add that it would not be business as normal with the ongoing pandemic. COVID-19 protocols will still require visitors to travel with their negative PCR test, wear facial masks when social distancing is not possible, and adhere to other protocols stipulated by the Ministry of Health. For tourism businesses, he also noted that protocols would affect operations and, in some instances, mean reduced occupancy levels.
Presently, the airlines that are operating flights into the destination include American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, British Airways, Caribbean Airlines, interCaribbean Airlines and Winair. In the next few months, Air Canada, Sunwing and Virgin Atlantic are expected to resume flights to Antigua.
Next month, the island will see additional hotel reopenings, including 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.
According to Fernandez, each hotel or accommodation offering that has reopened has been inspected by the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Health to ensure that they are adhering to new protocols. Over 200 properties have been inspected to date, ranging from small bed & breakfast-style properties to larger all-inclusives.
The full list of certified tourism properties can be found here.
Antigua and Barbuda has only seen two additional cases of COVID-19 in August, and another two so far in September. During the recent PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) Region of the Americas Update on COVID-19, Antigua and Barbuda’s status was improved from ‘Cluster of Cases’ to ‘Sporadic’.