By Elesha George
The exogenous factors of Covid-19 continue to affect tourist arrivals in Antigua and Barbuda. The sudden postponement of Air Canada and England’s one-month lockdown are expected to significantly reduce the number of passengers arriving in Antigua from Europe.
The country had anticipated an increase in travel of up to 50 per cent from November with the addition of the Canadian and UK markets. However, a decision by the UK prime Minister Boris Johnson to institute a month-long lockdown on England beginning this Thursday has set back those numbers, at least in the short term.
“Every time a country goes on lockdown, it affects the travel industry which includes the country’s tourism industry,” Tourism Minister, Charles Max Fernandez said, adding that his ministry is constantly monitoring the to detect moments such as these.
“We are concerned about it. It is a worrying trend definitely, but we’re hoping that everything can come under control. The UK is saying, for example, that by the end of this lockdown – the first week of December – they would have avoided a major spread which means they can be able to open up a lot more safely”, he explained.
LIAT Administrator Cleveland Seaforth acknowledged that England’s lockdown will also affect the number of passengers flying with the airline.
“Obviously it’s a situation which we are going to have to monitor on a day by day case … The situation with Covid keeps on changing and it’s something we have to continue to look at and adjust accordingly,” he said.
Later this week, Seaforth said he is to meet with airline representatives from the United Kingdom. CEO of the Antigua Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin James, was also expected to speak with representatives of Air Canada about a possible resumption date.