Antigua and Barbuda has been listed among the top places to travel to in 2022 by CNN Travel. The only problem is that its COVID-19 cases is increasing at an alarming rate.
Minister of Tourism, Charles Max Fernandez says the CNN exposure is acknowledgement of the work of the ministry and the Tourism Authority. The popular news agency lists the twin island state as part of 22 destinations it deems are the best to travel to this year.
Antigua was not only highlighted for its numerous beaches and attractions like Shirley Heights but the publication notes that cricket will take centre stage there with the official Test match between England and the West Indies at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium in March.
Antigua and Barbuda’s strides in sustainable development was also recognised, with the country’s ban on single use plastics and its green corridor also highlighted.
Fernandez said the tourism teams – both there and overseas continue to do a tremendously professional job in promoting the destination.
He added that in addition, the incentives given by the Cabinet during the down time in 2020, to the hotel properties, allowed them to take advantage and improve on their product.
He added that recognition is given to the Government through the Environment Department for strides made in sustainability and the protection of the environment which is key to the tourism product.
Unfortunately, many resorts across Antigua and Barbuda are seeing a trend of cancellations which has affected December occupancy and now January and February booking trends. This trend, the Antigua & Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association predicts, will continue until COVID-19 cases are controlled in the key source markets of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.
These cancellations are being forced by potential visitors hesitating for immediate travel and are opting to re-book for future dates. Re-bookings are a positive sign and a glimmer of hope as it could translate to a strong performance in the summer months.
Based on the reported loss of bookings over the January to March quarter, cancellations are being seen from all source markets with the performance in the US market being the most negatively impacted.
Vernon Jeffers, Executive Chairman of the Tourism Authority, said: “We will continue to keep an eye on the performance of our members, understanding very well that we are a long way from full recovery. Should cancellations continue at this pace, we will see the effects trickling down to employees in the sector where reduced work weeks and rotations will have to be employed. This a fear we do not want to see realized.”