Fernandez says 2021 most challenging year for tourism

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Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez (front) and Tourism Authority CEO Colin James (left) greet the guests of incoming cruise
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Covid-19 has left a trail of pesky challenges for tourism going into the new year, even as vaccines begin to make their way more easily around the world.

Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez told Observer that 2021 has been the most challenging year for Antigua and Barbuda’s tourism sector.

Even with the availability of vaccines, he said the virus has created new concerns.

“We thought vaccines would be the answer to help put Covid behind us, however, variants coupled with vaccine hesitancy has created new concerns,” he said.

Still, Fernandez shared that the country witnessed a good recovery in spite of these challenges with a record number of air arrivals in July and August.

“October, November were also performing above expectations. Actually, we are 36 per cent above 2020 levels for October and November,” he remarked.

The Tourism Minister said while 2022 remains promising, Covid-19 remains the major influential factor in the growth of the industry and the country’s economy.

According to the World Tourism Organization, international tourist arrivals declined globally by 73 percent in 2020, with one billion fewer travelers compared to 2019, putting in jeopardy between 100 and 120 million direct tourism jobs.

This has led to massive losses in international revenues for tourism-dependent economies: specifically, a collapse in exports of spent by nonresident visitors in a country and a decline in exports of transport services.

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