The hotel sector in Antigua & Barbuda reported its lowest overall occupancy for December in four years, according to hotel occupancy statistics released by the Antigua Hotel and Tourist Association (AHTA).
The sector recorded a 2 per cent decline in occupancy at the beginning of the winter tourism season, with 59.6 per cent total occupancy in December 2016 compared to 61.6 per cent in December 2015.
In particular, luxury and budget hotels recorded a 7.1 per cent and 8.8 per cent decline in occupancy, respectively.
Sources within the hotel sector who spoke on the condition of anonymity had told OBSERVER media that the majority of hotels in Antigua & Barbuda had experienced a decline in occupancy in December, and reported that bookings for early 2017 are trending down.
While one luxury hotel in Antigua & Barbuda reported a 7 per cent decline in occupancy during December 2016 compared to the previous year, another reported a decline as high as 19 per cent in the same period.
Another report released by the AHTA recorded a 7 per cent increase in arrivals as of November 2016. But AHTA chairman Alex DeBrito had cautioned against translating that growth into an increase for hotel occupancy.
Minister of Tourism Asot Michael said that his government will continue the aggressive groundbreaking of new hotel properties in 2017 in an effort to add to room stock. While the minister looked towards air and cruise ship arrivals as targets for growth, he did not set any goals for hotel occupancy in 2017.