NEW YORK --
Introducing the new twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda is a
lot like unwrapping a birthday present or unveiling a statue, said
Harold Lovell, the islands minister of tourism and civil aviation.
Barbuda are back was Lovells message to tour operators, hoteliers,
travel agents, airline representatives and media at a recent
reception in New York to kick off the destinations tourism
delivered a similar message at the Caribbean Tourism Conference in
St. Thomas last month.
In the past 10
years, we have been under the Caribbean radar screen, Lovell said.
Weve had a relatively limited presence in the North American
market, but were ready to roll now.
A new government
came into office last year, and with it the winds of change and
plans for the re-emergence of Antigua and Barbuda on the Caribbean
One of the first
developments was the appointment of Derede Samuel-Whitlock as U.S.
director of the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Tourism, based in
We know theres a
desire for information regarding our islands, and now were able to
provide it, Samuel-Whitlock said. Sometimes there is an advantage
to being out of the limelight for a while, but now there is a need
to expose our destination.
Lovell, the tiny archipelagos new marketing and promotion plans are
designed to dramatically build awareness and visibility of and for
Antigua and Barbuda.
couldnt be of more importance: Tourism accounts for 55% to 86% of
Antigua and Barbudas combined gross national product, depending on
how it is measured and what kind of a year we are having, he
leisure visitor figures through August reflected a dip of 4% in
arrivals, to 166,831, over the same period a year ago.
The cruise market
dropped more -- by 9%, to 304,992 passengers -- over
January and March
were our best months this year, but we need to even out the peak
season and broaden our market in the summer months, Lovell
The U.S. is
Antigua and Barbudas second-largest source market after Europe,
with the U.K. sending the most leisure visitors.
The U.S. used to
be our biggest market, but it fell off after 9/11, Lovell
New airlift out
of U.S. gateway airports might help: The Dec. 18 launch of Deltas
nonstop service from Atlanta to Antigua on Wednesdays and Sundays
could beef up the U.S. market this winter.
Antigua also is
served by American Airlines, Continental Airlines and US
Barbuda, which is
27 miles northeast of Antigua, is served by Carib Aviation from
Antigua. Ferry service also is available.
tourism initiatives include:
" The renovation
and expansion of Antiguas V.C. Bird Airport, a 10-year project to
upgrade departure and arrival terminals at the aging facility and
to expand the runways and ticketing areas.
" The opening of
the $80 million Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium, now under
construction, for the 2007 Cricket World Cup, to be held in the
Caribbean for the first time.
destinations hotel inventory -- which currently stands at 3,000
rooms in 60 properties in Antigua and fewer than 50 rooms in three
properties in Barbuda -- will get a sizable boost with the addition
of 180 suites to the existing 193-unit Sandals Antigua Caribbean
Village and Spa resort.
The $65 million
Mediterranean Village expansion at the Sandals property is set to
open in November 2006. New Mediterranean Village facilities will
include the eastern Caribbean regions largest freshwater pool,
poolside cabanas and more dining and shopping options.
" Extensive road
repair projects and a new airport terminal are planned for
The island, best
known for its beaches and its Frigate Bird Sanctuary -- the
second-largest in the Western Hemisphere -- also may be in line for
a luxury hotel development within the next few years, according to
" A new
Hospitality Training Institute will be established on Antigua,
along with a Service Ambassadors Program, by December
facility will be a place where we can train and teach our people
the importance of tourism to our islands, according to
said that all hospitality employees in Antigua and Barbuda will
have to be certified as service ambassadors in order to work in
tourism and related industries.
information, visit the Antigua and Barbuda Dept. of Tourism Web
site at www.antigua-barbuda.org.
reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].