By Carlena Knight
The time has come to “turn the page” and return to normal life following the relaxation of Covid-related restrictions by the government earlier this year.
That’s according to First Vice Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Hotel and Tourism Association (ABHTA), Alex de Brito, who spoke exclusively with Observer on Thursday at the ongoing Showcase Antigua Barbuda event.
De Brito said the ABHTA is now fully on board with the decision to ease rules, even while some resort properties continue to ensure that Covid practices like mask wearing are still carried out.
“I think we are on board. Some of the hotels are still being very careful. As you know, we still have some cases in Antigua but fortunately we don’t see a high number in the medical centres and hospitals, so, I believe that’s very good.
“Most of our guests who come in are vaccinated and also, I can see that they appreciate that we still have some rules in place. They still have the conditions at the airport – and the staff in the hotels, most of them still use their mask.
“So, I think they feel comfortable and I think it is now time to turn the page and see how things are going and try to go back to a more normal life,” De Brito said.
As of April 13, all persons entering Antigua and Barbuda, subject to evidence of any new variant of the coronavirus, were allowed to do so without vaccination. Those who are unjabbed are required to present a negative Covid test, taken no more than four days before travel.
People employed in the hospitality sector were strong proponents of the mandatory vaccination policy for all arriving guests into the country, and were among those to make such a recommendation to the government of Antigua and Barbuda.
But according to De Brito, the focus should now be on trying to rebuild the tourism sector.
He believes that events like Showcase Antigua Barbuda will help, and went on to pledge the ABHTA’s full support to tourism officials in that quest.
“Our goal for the future is to continue to support the Tourism Authority to market Antigua and Barbuda the best we can, but I think education and training and trying to make the younger generation understand what they can do in tourism, how they can grow, I think for us will be the main goal in the future,” De Brito added.
Now in its seventh year, Showcase Antigua Barbuda is the country’s premier travel trade business-to-business event.
The annual event, hosted by the ABHTA in collaboration with the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, attracts major tour companies from the Caribbean, Latin America, North America, the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United Arab Emirates.
This is the first time it has been held since the start of the Covid pandemic.