By Theresa Goodwin
The national lockdown in England, due to a second wave of coronavirus, has shattered the hopes of many hoteliers who were looking forward to the winter season with much anticipation.
Many property owners across the country are now faced with cancellations and the possibility of staff cuts instead.
Thirty-one hotels in Antigua and Barbuda have resumed operations since the reopening of the economy in June.
“Prior to the announcement by the British government, many properties were forecasting a performance for the months of November and December at 50 percent and greater,” a release from the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association (ABHTA) stated Friday.
“There was a glimmer of hope in the industry for hotels that have been opened over the past five months and those which have opened within the last four weeks. All eyes were set on the return of the high season and its potential for seeing increasing demand for travel from our major source markets,” the release added.
Earlier this week British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a second national lockdown for England to prevent a “medical and moral disaster” for the National Health Service.
He said Christmas may be “very different” but he hoped taking action now would mean families can gather. It is expected that restrictions will ease after December 2.
The lockdown has so far forced British Airways (BA) – one of the UK’s most popular airlines for travel to the Caribbean – to suspend flights to Antigua and Barbuda and other parts of the region.
ABHTA Chairman Vernon Jeffers said, “Many of our members who traditionally see high bookings from the UK are faced with cancellations and extremely low occupancies for the month of November.”
He stated further that hotels that have reopened since June will face a huge financial hit.
Jeffers said most of these properties would have implemented extensive changes to their operations to ensure compliance with Covid safety protocols.
Despite the current situation the chairman disclosed that, although November’s performance will not be as hoped, industry bosses are looking forward to December and the normalisation of flights with the return of the Canadian carriers.
“Some guests have opted to re-book to the month of December instead of cancelling their vacation and we hope that this trend will mean a strong December for arrivals, barring any extension of the lockdown,” Jeffers added.