Antigua and Barbuda has had a huge impact at World Travel Market in London over the first two days of the show. The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority has reported positive meetings and successful relationship building and there has been encouraging feedback from both the trade and media on activity over the past year.
Tourism industry meetings were attended by the Honourable Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment & Energy; Richard Skerritt, Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority and Paula Frederick-Hunte, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment & Energy.
Meetings were held with the four key airlines; British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Thomas Cook UK and Condor (Germany). Overall, the feedback is that 2016 has been a year of consolidation after large growth for the airlines in 2015. The four airlines gave the encouraging feedback that the current UK to Antigua airline routes have all increased in profitability over the past year. The airline partners also discussed that they are pleased with the tourism authority’s promotional activity to increase destination awareness. The new hotel developments were discussed and the airlines are open to working with the islands to increase air lift proportionately in 2018/19.
Meetings with tour operators including BA Holidays, Virgin Holidays, Thomas Cook, Dnata (Travel 2, Gold Medal and Travelbag) and Tropical Sky were also positive. Dnata and Tropical Sky, who are both in the top ten volume producers for the island, reported 50% increase in business for 2017.
The annual appreciation dinner was hosted by the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority aboard the Silver Barracuda which sailed along the Thames from the WTM venue of Excel to central London. Joining the Minister to thank the UK trade were the Governor General, Sir Rodney Williams and Lady Sandra Williams, High Commissioner for Antigua and Barbuda Ms Karen-Mae Hill, Sir Isaac Vivian Richards and footballer Emile Heskey. In attendance were 140 leading airline partners, tour operators, hoteliers and top travel media. Key guests included Virgin Holidays, BA Holidays, Thomas Cook and Condor from the tour operator side, many of the leading hoteliers on island, and a host of media from The Times to the Daily Mail and travel trade magazine, TTG.
WTM was utilised to share future plans of Antigua and Barbuda including the anniversaries 50th Anniversary of Antigua Sailing Week, 30th Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, and the 60th Carnival. In addition the One Day Cricket Series in Antigua in March 2017. The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority also launched a new coffee table book on the history and culture of Antigua, entitled ‘The Little Bit of Paradise’.
Minister Michael, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment & Energy spoke at the event, thanking all partners for their support. The new Chairman of the Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority, Richard Skerritt was welcomed to the team.
In his speech Minister Michael said,
“Tonight I especially want to say how grateful we are that all of you here continue to partner with us to make this vital industry successful. Whichever area of the industry you serve, all of you are extremely valuable to sustaining and growing the travel and tourism business to Antigua and Barbuda, and we thank for joining this event as our guests this evening.”
In closing he said:
‘We do recognize our responsibility to ensure that development is done responsibly. We are moving closer to achieving the goal of operating the greenest electricity sector in the region with the addition of a sun2live solar power plant at our V.C. Bird International airport. The new plant will cover almost the entire energy demand of the airport and the aim is to provide 24 hours of electricity and reduce the impact on the environment.”