Cruise arrivals, air arrivals, airlift, and public relations are among the major areas of concentration for the Ministry of Tourism in 2017.
With a successful 2016 now in the record books, the ministry will redouble its efforts in ensuring the upward trend continues. Tourism officials are predicting a 10 per cent increase in air arrivals for 2017, including initiating discussions with at least four major airlines to begin serving the country, namely Emirates, Norwegian and Panama’s flag carrier Copa. Plans are also to engage US carriers Spirit, Southwest and Jetblue, through the Fort Lauderdale gateway.
A 6 per cent growth in air arrivals and airlift was recorded in 2016. Visitors totaled 265,187, an increase of 14, 737 when compared to 2015. The United States market dominated in 2016 according to statistics, recording a 15 per cent growth over 2015. Caribbean arrivals are also reported to have increased, a result of increased marketing and promotion within the region.
On the cruise front, officials are projecting 100, 000 passengers will disembark in Port St. John’s in 2017. If the ambitious plan is successful, it will be the first time that the country will record such figures in any given year. Meantime, expansion work on berthing facilities is continuing for such a feat to be accomplished.
The overall success will be hinged on the country raising its awareness. Tourism Minister Asot Michael says his ministry will “Identify at least 2 major PR opportunities from our major source markets that will exponentially raise the awareness of the destination.”
Going forward, Minister Michael noted that the intention is to strategically position Antigua and Barbuda as the destination of choice, in an effort to increase business to the country.