St John’s Nov 20, 2017: The Chairman of the Antigua Hotels and Tourists Association Alex Debrito, has indicated that hoteliers can look forward to positive occupancy in the winter months, despite challenges associated with the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria
He said that due to the passage of the catastrophic storms, although they did not significantly impact Antigua, there was a negative perception about the island with regular visitors having second thoughts.
The AHTA Chairman gave kudos to the Ministry of Tourism, the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority and other key stakeholders for their effective “damage control” and engaging promotions in the days and weeks following the passage of the natural disasters.
“I think in a certain way that our PR, the Ministry of Tourism, the government and all the private companies that are engaged in the industry both here and in our overseas markets, did a good job in rectifying the image of the country. There were some persons who for a lack of geographical knowledge, though that Antigua and Barbuda were one place and not two separate islands, so an excellent job was done I think to change that perception”, he said.
“Now, we are looking forward to the upcoming months. There will be very good occupancy towards the end of December, January, February we are watching the numbers for March and then in April they will pick up again, so in general it will be a really good season and we are thankful”, he noted.
The AHTA Chairman also weighed in on the 30% increase that is expected in cruise arrivals this season, some of which is as a result of the damaged sustained by neighbouring ports in the region.
“This is very good and at the same time, we have to ensure that we put in place the infrastructure and the people to welcome them and even to have repeat passengers so we have a lot of opportunities for further growth in the tourism sector in the future”, he said.
Debrito will be meeting with the Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Charles Fernandez on Tuesday to plan the way forward for 2018.
He said that he is also pleased with the level of work being carried out by analysts and strategists in the sector. “There is a lot of assessment of data, observation of trends and really a lot of work being done behind the scenes to advance tourism”.