Antigua and Barbuda: the Caribbean’s Fastest Growing Hotspot With Double Digit Increase in Visitor Arrivals
2016 is already a landmark year for Antigua and Barbuda, as they are becoming the hotspot of the Caribbean, attracting the lion’s share of visitors from the US. The year began on a strong start with the twin islands showing an overall increase in US visitors by 11.61%, and this has only continued with a 23% increase in February, and overall increase of 17% Year to Date (UTD). This remarkable double-digit growth improved in March, with a 28% increase in visitors for the month, and overall 21% YTD growth. The visitor boom for Antigua and Barbuda is complementary to the tourism boom of Antigua and Barbuda with over 8 announcements of new multi-million dollar properties or improvements to established resorts in the last 4 months. New projects include: the $52 Million Labahia Hotel Resorts and Condominium project, the $450 Million Genesis project on Barbuda’s Gravenor Bay that will be fully-sustainable, Replay Resorts purchasing 108 acres on Half Moon Bay for a new resort, the announcement of Pleasure Cove Resort and Spa, a 47 condominium-hotel resort, The Ocean One Project of Tamarind Hills that will be a 200 room resort upon completion, a new 10 acre, 150 room resort on Valley Crunch Beach, while Nonsuch Bay Resort is planning a $58 Million expansion of 188 new condominium and hotel units, and Blue Waters just completed $1 Million renovation.
To meet this growth, Antigua and Barbuda, recently opened the newest and most-modern airport in the Caribbean, VC Bird International Airport, in the Fall of 2015. This airport offers the latest in aviation technology so as to ensure everyone flying through the airport will experience the most seamless and efficient travel experience possible, from landing and customs to baggage claim, to check-in and shopping and dining upon departure. The airport is a model in sustainability as they recently opened a solar power plant with 12,000 panels that allows the airport to run almost completely on solar energy.
Antigua and Barbuda’s increase in visibility for the US market is due to the combination of an 8-month long aggressive US Sales & Marketing strategy to include advertising campaigns across a multitude of platforms from digital to print and social media and having some of the lowest fares available to the Caribbean from the New York tri-state market. Additionally, Antigua and Barbuda’s profile has been rising with a remarkable increase in media coverage, having been featured in a variety of trade and consumer publications including: USA Today, Travel + Leisure, Bloomberg, The Architectural Digest, Recommend, Travel Weekly, Condé Nast Traveler, and Yahoo! Travel.
In order to keep this momentum going, the New York Office embarked on series of activities for 2016. This includes a sales and trade initiative which included launching the A&B Insider monthly newsletter geared towards educating and engaging travel agents about the destination. Sales and Marketing Managers Dean Fenton and Shermain Jeremy launched an internal training series geared towards developing the efficiency and effectiveness of the USA sales team by increasing product knowledge and sales presentation skills. To date, Elite Island Resorts and the Inn at English Harbour have conducted training sessions with the staff. This effort is expected to continue throughout the course of the year. The team is also preparing to re-launch the Travel Agent Training Program which will include a new and improved training platform and sales companion as well as a new incentive program.
Known for its 365 beaches, all offering pristine white or pink sand, with stunning azure waters, Antigua and Barbuda offer a variety of activities from the best kite-surfing in the Caribbean to ziplining in the rainforest to snorkeling in beautiful reefs to world-renowned sailing conditions. The twin-islands also offer an exciting year-round calendar of events. Antigua’s Sailing Week, is one of the world’s top regattas attracting an average of 150-200 yachts, 1,500 participants and 5,000 spectators annually and is taking place April 22 – April 29th this year. In July, the Antigua Carnival, the Caribbean’s greatest summer festival, will be marking its 60th Celebration July 22 – August 2. The Carnival will celebrate these 60 years with a colorful insight into the culture of the country. Traditionally 10 days long, this year will have an additional 2 days, of celebratory music and dance where attendees are promised to encounter colorful costumes, Carnival Queen pageants, food fairs, parades, live shows and the best Soca and Calypso music from live bands and performers. Antigua and Barbuda will also be celebrating 10 years of June as the month of romance and will be launching exciting activities and packages for couples. The twin islands are particularly ideal for destination weddings as residency is not a requirement, making the process of arranging a marriage even easier. Later in the year, Antigua and Barbuda will be celebrating its’ 35th year of independence with 3 days of celebrations planned around November 1st. For the food and wine gourmands, there is the annual Mango festival in July and Antigua’s Festival of Wine, Winestock, in November. For fishing enthusiasts, there are fishing and sport fishing tournaments throughout the year, including the Marlin Classic and Sport Fishing Tournament in May and Best in the West Fishing Tournament in November.
To discover why everyone is falling in love with Antigua and Barbuda, topping travel lists every year, and to book your next trip, visitwww.visitantiguabarbuda.com for more information or visit www.antiguabarbudabuzz.com for packages and deals.