Antigua’s Visitor Arrivals Surge Extends Through First Quarter
PHOTO: Robert DeNiro signs $250 million resort agreement with Gaston Browne (left), Antigua’s prime minister. (Photo courtesy of government of Antigua and Barbuda).
The tourist arrivals surge that began in January for Antigua & Barbuda continued through the first quarter of 2016, said tourism officials in the dual-island Caribbean nation. Visitor arrivals for the period between January and March totaled 84,566, a 13.5 percent year-over-year increase according to officials at the Antigua Hotel & Tourist Association (AHTA).
Antigua & Barbuda recorded double-digit arrivals growth in each of the three months including a 16.4 percent year-over-year increase in March. “The renewed focus and direction of the government’s tourism marketing and airlift polices are now reaping huge dividends,” said Asot Michael, the country’s tourism minister.
March 2016 arrivals from the United States grew by 28 percent year-over-year, said AHTA officials. Arrivals grew by nine percent in the United Kingdom, 25 percent in Italy and 41 percent in the Caribbean year over year, they added.
Earlier this year, tourism officials cited last year’s launch of service aboard JetBlue Airways from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport as a catalyst in the country’s visitor surge.
Antigua’s government and ABTA last year launched aggressive tourism infrastructure development projects including the August opening of a new 247,569-square-foot terminal at V.C. Bird International Airport. The government is also partnering with Academy Award-winning actor Robert DeNiro to open Paradise Found, a $250 million, 391-acre resort development on the site of Barbuda’s former K Club resort.
Antigua is coming off a year of uneven tourist arrivals in 2015. Overnight arrivals between January and November (the latest period for which Caribbean Tourism Organization data is available) totaled 222,123, a 0.5 percent decline from 2014.
Conversely, the dual-island destination welcomed 644,314 cruise ship passengers in 2015, a 23.4 percent increase over 2014.
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