Tourism stayover arrivals in Antigua and Barbuda for the month of July, which is traditionally a slow season, surpassed pre-COVID levels, the twin-island nation's Ministry of Tourism says.
Stayover tourism arrivals for the month came in at a high with 23,405 tourists visiting Antigua and Barbuda via the V.C. Bird International Airport.
The July 2021 air arrival figures have surpassed 2019 arrivals, which during the record-breaking year for Antigua and Barbuda, stood at 23,031.
“There has been a visible change in the travel behaviour of our visitors brought on by the covid-19 pandemic and we continue to see a steady increase in arrivals during the summer months," said Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Charles Fernandez, in a statement.
“July has been an extremely strong month with demand for the destination from the US Market as well as the UK market, booming, with growth above 2019 figures. We are also beginning to see an uptake from our Caribbean and Canadian market.”
From the main source markets, 15,350 of Antigua and Barbuda’s tourists travelled by air from the United States in July 2021 compared to 10,221 in July 2019.
This is followed by 6,521 from the United Kingdom compared to 5,378. With airlift still not up to pre-covid levels, Antigua and Barbuda received 839 tourists from the Caribbean and 107 from Canada during the month.
“We are indeed buoyed by this continued upward trajectory in the air arrival numbers which is a clear indication that the recovery is well underway. This is particularly encouraging in that this July which is the best July ever for air arrivals was accomplished in a year when Antigua’s carnival was again cancelled due to the pandemic as compared to 2019 when we had carnival. This good news only serves to redouble our efforts for the remainder of the year," said CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Colin C. James.
With air arrivals up, hoteliers across the country have been busy.
Vernon A. Jeffers, senior executive chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association, reports that, “July saw a return to very high occupancies particularly across our mid-range sized hotels who performed at 80 per cent and higher."
"We certainly hope that these occupancy levels are sustained over the next few months as travellers continue to make last minute decisions to travel to the destination," he said
Tour operators, taxis and restauranteurs have indicated that they are experiencing an uptake in business for the month of July.
“The Ministry of Tourism urges all tourism partners and stakeholders to remain vigilant and committed to the following of the covid-19 health and safety protocols to guarantee a strong tourism recovery," Mr. Fernandez added.
The Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association echoed these sentiments and encouraged resort management and employees in the sector to ensure that all public health measures are followed to ensure a safe and sustainable future.