PHOTO: The beach in Anguilla. (Photo by Brian Major)
There are no direct flights between the US and Anguilla—the tiny Caribbean nation of 13,500 inhabitants—but the destination’s less-than-direct access hasn’t prevented its visitor arrivals from growing significantly in last several years.
The trend continued in 2016 as Anguilla recorded 79,239 overnight, land-based tourist arrivals, an increase of 8.2 percent increase over 2015 according to Anguilla Tourist Board (ATB) statistics.
Anguilla’s 2016 total broke the island’s previous record of 77,652 arrivals, set in 2007. Anguilla’s 8.2 percent year-over-year visitor increase in 2016 was the sixth-highest among Caribbean destinations said ATB officials.
Strong US arrivals propelled the island’s 2016 visitor growth as Anguilla’s 50,508 arrivals represented a 6.9 percent increase over 2015. US travelers accounted for 64 percent of visitors to Anguilla in 2016, making it the island’s largest traveler source market.
Canadian travel to Anguilla improved slightly, with overnight arrivals increasing 3.1 percent in 2016 to 3,501 visitors. Anguilla’s UK land-based traveler contingent totaled 2,968 arrivals in 2016, a 7.8 percent over 2015, while Germany’s relatively small visitor contribution of 626 arrivals in 2016 nevertheless represented a 50 percent increase over 2015.
Conversely, Anguilla’s 1,106 Italian tourist arrivals in 2016 represent a 12.3 percent year-over-year decline, which ATB officials linked to fears of terrorism. The officials note that Paris, the site of terror attacks in the fall of 2015, is the main gateway for Italian visitors.
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Additionally, the killing of nine Italian businessmen by ISIS terrorists in Bangladesh in July 2016 may have prompted Italians to vacation closer to home, ATB officials said. One-third of Italian tourists to Anguilla travel in July, they noted. “The steep decline in arrivals that month negatively impacted overall tourist arrivals for the year,” said ATB officials in a statement.
Anguilla is accessible from nearby St. Maarten, whose Princess Juliana International Airport is a major Caribbean transportation hub. Visitors can hire a private motorboat for the 25-minute ride from St. Maarten to the dock in Anguilla. Citing the lack of direct air access, ATB last year contracted two operators to supplement the private transportation services with late-night ferry access from St. Maarten.