“Fifteen months ago Antigua and Barbuda’s economy was decimated by global crises and bad management,” says Prime Minister Gaston Browne. “We were told tourism arrivals would be down 15 percent.” Fifteen percent? It never happened. Browne’s country is on a roll, and, he declared on a late-September visit to New York City, “We expect a fundamental increase in tourism arrivals.” Here’s why:
- As reported here, Antigua and Barbuda’s investor-friendly policies are luring a slew of new hotels, including a Royalton, a Beaches, the five-star Callaloo Bay, a Setai condominium and resort project, and a luxury resort that actor Robert De Niro will build on Barbuda. The island nation currently has about 3,700 rooms, and, says Browne, “We plan to double our room count in the next four years.”
- At the same time, the administration plans to maintain Antigua and Barbuda’s position as a high-end destination by pushing for a refurbishment of the “tired” hotels, and, warns Browne, “we may acquire some that have not been updated.”
- A dredging project will enable the port to accommodate larger cruise ships. “By 2017 we anticipate at least a 50 percent increase in cruise arrivals.”
- The new, move-’em-through V.C. Bird airport terminal that debuted in August (see “Antigua and Barbuda’s New Terminal: Ten Things You Need to Know”) is already attracting new flights (e.g. JetBlue from JFK), enabling more travelers to visit these islands or to connect there to other destinations in the eastern Caribbean. FYI, this airport is pet-friendly.
- The government has even hired 300 workers to keep the islands trash-free. “We expect to be one of the cleanest destinations in the world,” boasts Browne. His administration has also jump-started reforestation and road-building projects.
- As for the locals visitors will encounter in Antigua and Barbuda, adds the prime minister, the country “has a literacy rate of almost 99 percent.”
For more information, call (888) 268-4227, (212) 541-4117, or (416) 961-3085 or visit antigua-barbuda.org.