What's Behind Antigua and Barbuda's Huge Arrivals Surge?
PHOTO: Antigua posted an 11.6 percent arrivals increase in January. (Photo by Brian Major).
Antigua and Barbuda tourism officials are crediting a 14 percent increase in airlift to the destination in late 2015 with generating double-digit arrivals growth among U.S.-based travelers in early 2016.
Antigua hosted 9,322 visitors in January, an 11.61 percent increase compared with January 2015. “Initial figures suggest this growth will be similar in February and should continue this upward trend throughout the remainder of 2016,” said Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA) officials in a statement.
ABTA officials are also reporting “incredibly strong forward bookings” for 2016, crediting last year’s launch of service aboard JetBlue Airways from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport with the country’s double-digit airlift surge.
Antigua’s government and ABTA recently inaugurated an aggressive program of tourism infrastructure development 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.
Several landmark cultural events are on tap for the destination in 2016. The Antigua Carnival, scheduled for July 22 to Aug. 2, will celebrate its 60th year. Traditionally 10 days long, the event will include an additional two days this year and feature dance and colorful costumes, plus Carnival queen pageants, food fairs, parades, live shows and Soca and Calypso music from live bands and performers.
In June ABTA will celebrate the 10th year of its designation of June as Antigua’s “month of romance” with activities and packages for couples. Later in the year the dual-island nation will celebrate its 35th year of independence with three days of celebrations beginning Nov. 1.
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