Projections that Antigua and Barbuda would end the first quarter of 2016 with a double-digit increase in visitor arrivals by air, have materialized, with the latest announcement of a strong increase in the air arrivals.
The 2016 visitor air arrivals reported for the first two months of the year, showed double digit growth month on month. The newly revealed March figures boost the already strong numbers with 30,321 passengers recorded as having visited the destination in the month, an increase of 16.4% from the previous year.
Visitor arrivals for the year-to-March now stand at 84,566, an overall increase of 13.5%.
Tourism in Antigua and Barbuda has been reinvigorated over the past months, with a series of heavy-hitting sales and marketing initiatives along with over 8 announcements of new multi-million dollar properties or improvements to established resorts in the last 4 months. Tourism Minister the Hon Asot A. Michael on hearing the news, reiterated “The renewed focus and direction of the Government’s Tourism marketing and Airlift polices are now reaping huge dividends. 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” remarked Minister Michael.
Feedback on forward bookings from local hoteliers also confirmed the optimism within the industry. They expressed confidence, in forward booking and had predicted that March’s growth figures would continue on the upward trend started at the beginning of the season in November of last year.
In the month of March 2016 the United States Market expanded by (28%), the United Kingdom (9%), Italy (25%) and the Caribbean (41%) compared to March of last year.
The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, which has responsibility for destination marketing has activated a series of campaigns throughout the source markets meant to bolster the softer shoulder periods and to counteract the seasonal drop-off typically experienced during the slower summer months.
Campaigns, highlighting affordable hotel deals and low fares to the destination, are due to be launched in mere days in the US and UK markets to capture consumers during the summer booking period. New destination images also being unveiled as part of these marketing campaigns, are meant to refresh the brand and showcase the destination in a new, and more attractive light.
Travel agent training and outreach, along with high quality PR and press visits to the destination will also be stepped up across all source markets. Within the Caribbean, a regional roadshow begins in Trinidad this week, in conjunction with a host of small properties with a delegation lead by the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority and the Ministry of Tourism. The focus is to promote travel to Antigua and Barbuda for the upcoming 60th Anniversary of our carnival celebrations.
The news of continued growth in tourism air arrivals has been welcomed by all local industry stakeholders. Businesses owners, and employees alike are all now experiencing a renewed spirit of optimism as they begin to feel the tangible effects generated by the steady improvement in tourism arrivals.