Antigua and Barbuda tourism officials have reported that, for the first time in more than 15 years, the country has shown the strongest overall visitor arrivals by air from January to June.
The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA) said on Tuesday that it recorded 148,139 arrivals for that period this year, with significant increases in the key source markets for the destination: United States, Canada, United Kingdom and the Caribbean.
ABTA said this represents an overall seven percent increase over 2017. It added that the closest the destination previously came to these figures was in 2008 (146,935).
In particular, the month of June demonstrated significant increases, ABTA said.
It said Canada has the greatest year-over-year increase with over 170 percent, followed by the U.S. (14.35 percent), Caribbean (8.69 percent) and the United Kingdom (8.27 percent).
In addition, ABTA said the destination is seeing an average 11.57 percent increase in sea arrivals (502,527 from January – May), and an average 8.6 percent growth in occupancy rates.
This growth is set to continue with significant increased airlift from North America in the Fall of 2018, with the opening of the destination’s newest 5-star resort and spa, Hodges Bay, in October 2018, as well as a full cruise schedule, ABTA said.
“We are excited by this positive momentum in growth of arrivals, both by cruise and air,” said Minister of Tourism, Economic Development and Investment, Charles “Max” Fernandez.
“It is incredibly encouraging for the tourism industry, and I would like to congratulate the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, the private sector, stakeholders and all our tourism partners in helping us to reach these positive results for the first six months of the year,” he added.
“We will not rest on our laurels, and are striving for better,” Fernandez continued. “We will continue to invest in infrastructure and service and raise awareness of Antigua and Barbuda to ensure we see consistent growth in arrivals.”
ABTA chief executive officer Colin C. James said the first half of 2018 has shown “incredible improvement, especially in our key source markets.
“We look forward to relentlessly working towards attracting new and returning visitors, improving our on-island tourism products, as well as increasing access through our award-winning airport and port,” he said.
“We are doubling our airlift out of Miami, introducing new direct service out of New York and Canada, and welcoming new cruise ships to an already busy schedule,” he added. “Combined with our aggressive marketing strategies, we are confident that we will continue to see remarkable growth for the second half of the year.”
In 2017, ABTA said Antigua and Barbuda “reached a tourism milestone in welcoming more than one million air and sea visitors.
“The arrival and occupancy figures for the first half of the year are positive indicators that Antigua and Barbuda is set for another record year in tourism,” the authority said.