AHTA Chair: Marked drop in US arrivals is not alarming

The Chairman of the Antigua Hotels & Tourist Association (AHTA) has reminded those heralding a comparative decline in June’s tourist arrivals as a sign of a waning tourism sector, that last year was “an exceptional year”.

Alex De Brito said that in fact, 2016 was “one of the best years for tourism in the last five or six years” and reasoned that with such an unexpected peak in 2016 it is not surprising that numbers now appear to dip as they merely return to normal.

“We are down 5 per cent overall for the period January to June this year when compared to the same period last year. It is true that this June we were lower than last year but it’s been a reasonable season,” De Brito said.

Antigua and Barbuda experienced an 18 per cent decline in arrivals from the United States (US) for the period of June when compared to the same month in 2016.

It was also recently discovered that the Verandah Resorts & Spa owned by Rob Barrett’s company Elite Island Resorts Antigua will be closing its doors temporarily due to renovations on site, construction on a new property next door and the normal slow period at this time of year.

Barrett told OBSERVER media over the weekend that there should not be any hysteria over the decline in figures for June. He said it had been an “average year” thus far and said the last two years “have been outstanding – boom years”.

Meanwhile, De Brito has agreed with a statement made by Barrett that Antigua & Barbuda can no longer compete by price as a tourist destination.

De Brito said, “The only way we can compete in the Caribbean is improving the quality of our hotels.”

The AHTA Chairman was speaking on OBSERVER radio as a member of the panel that discussed the recent decline in arrivals and the closure of Verandah Resort & Spa on the Big Issues programme on Sunday.

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