Royal Caribbean is expected to spend more than US$100 million to build a beach club at Fort James as the country gears up for a boost in tourist numbers.
According to Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez, the beach club is expected to be offered mainly to passengers on board Royal Caribbean cruise vessels. Tourism officials hope that increasing homeporting and the impending arrival of Oasis-class ships will equate to more visitors to the island.
“It will be an offering to their passengers mainly to come and spend the day so when they come on the ship in the morning, they can go there and spend the day and leave in the afternoon.
“Bearing in mind that we will see more passengers coming into Antigua so we need to have more areas where the visitors can go and spend the day,” Minister Fernandez added.
Plans to establish a beach club have long been in the works for the world’s second largest cruise company. In 2020, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International Michael Bayley was quoted as saying he hoped to bring to “life an experience that will bring more visitors”.
Minister Fernandez added that initial conversations around construction of the club were in the region of US$75-$100 million, but he noted that inflation in the cost of construction material has meant a likely increase in overall cost.
“By the fourth quarter of this year, we should be in dialogue to finalise so that we can look to start [construction] in 2024,” he noted.
The minister added that the beach will remain open to the public, assuaging any concern over the company potentially privatising the cherished stretch of coastline.