While there are positive projections for the Antiguan hotel sector in early 2017, changes in tourism sources markets may negatively affect the sector in the future, Chairman of the Antigua & Barbuda Hotels & Tourism Association (AHTA) Alex DeBrito said.
The hotel sector reported its lowest overall occupancy for December in four years, according to AHTA statistics. However, while December 2016 recorded lower occupancy levels, the overall year recorded a slight increase, Debrito said.
Sources within the hotel sector who spoke on the condition of anonymity had told OBSERVER media that bookings for early 2017 were also trending downwards. However, DeBrito said that his own projections for early 2017 were doing well.
“I think the beginning of the year 2017 — January, February, March — I think they’re doing well. I don’t have the projections for the [individual] hotels, but I’m speaking about mine,” DeBrito said. “I think where we may face some challenges is going to be, for one reason, the bookings for April are quite slow right now. And I know that is true, generally speaking, for the Caribbean.”
But a significant change in the hotel sector that may be currently affecting hotel occupancy is the fact that tourists are staying for shorter periods of time. DeBrito said that American visitors, on average, stay for a shorter period of time than the average tourist.
“Americans, five years ago, would travel for 5 days,” Debrito said. “Now they do a little bit more, six, sometimes seven [days]. But the UK market used to do, very easily, a minimum of 10-12 days.”
Total arrivals from the United States had increased by 18.35 per cent in 2016, according to the AHTA. But that surge in American arrivals, coupled with a shortfall in other markets, could be driving down the overall amount of room nights for the hotel sector, the AHTA official said.
“If you have 1,000 guests staying for 10 days, that’s 10,000 nights,” DeBrito said. “If those same 1,000 guests stay for seven days, that’s only 7,000 nights.”
In addition to a lowered number of bookings for April, economic factors overseas may also negatively affect both tourism arrivals and hotel occupancy in the future. In particular, the wider effects of the Brexit and the devaluation of the Canadian dollar remain to be seen.
More in today’s Daily Observer.